The tennis center's operations have been leased out by the city since 2008.
The Ormond Beachside Tennis Center is now under new management, and the club operator said he is committed to returning the facility to its former glory.
Having been closed for some months due to COVID-19, new club operator Jan Buenner has a laundry lists of tasks ahead to renovate the clay courts in the center, located at 38 E. Granada Blvd. near the Casements. Buenner, who owns the Trails Racquet Club, acquired the city contract to manage the facility back in December 2020. On Jan. 2, OBTC celebrated its grand opening.
“It’s been actually a very nice and smooth transition," Buenner said.
The city began leasing the center's operations and management in 2008, and three companies have since operated the eight-clay court facility, according to city documents. The last operator, Coastal Tennis Life Company, canceled its contract with the city in June 2020 due to COVID-19, and the city briefly took over management until a new lease was awarded.
The new agreement to lease the facility to Jan Buenner Tennis LLC includes the city paying a management fee of $12,000 for the first year, and $6,000 for the second year of operation.
Buenner said he'd been trying to acquire a lease of OBTC for the 12 years it's been a possibility, and for him, 2020 turned out to be his lucky year. He was the sole bidder.
The center's clay courts
Tennis Coach Seth Shreve said one of the benefits of the center is its beachside location. Being one of the only clay court facilities in the surrounding Ormond area (The Trails Racquet Club being another of its kind), its visibility from Granada Boulevard is a plus. Shreve has been teaching at OBTS for the last four years and said everybody has seen the courts improve lately, including the grounds maintained by the city.
“Overall, it’s getting better and better," Shreve said.
A clay court requires frequent watering and brushing for upkeep. Because of this, they are more costly and labor-intensive to keep in good shape compared to hard courts, and OBTC increased membership fees when it took over. The members have been "very gracious" about the small increase, said Nicole Leite, OBTC front office manager.
“It takes a lot to maintain clay courts and to keep them that way," Leite said. "It requires renovation every couple of months of the basic playing surface."
However, it is a surface that is ideal for older players, Buenner explained, as it is easier on the joints.
Ormond Beach resident Mike Miller plays on hard courts all the time. At 75 years old, he said he can tell the difference when he's playing on a clay court.
“It’s much nicer playing on the clay," Miller said. "While I play on the hard courts, I have people continually asking me over the last year, ‘When are they going to reopen Ormond Beach Tennis Center?’"
Now, Miller has an answer for them.
Looking to the future
OBTC currently has a membership of 33 players. In order to make the center viable, Buenner aims to increase that significantly in the near future.
With a higher membership, Buenner hopes the city will invest in future improvements to the facility, including better lighting and fences, as well a central amenity for players. Right now, the OBTC operates out of a back room of the MacDonald House.
"Once we have improved the condition of the courts and enhanced the pro shop in the next month or so, we want to make OBTC the number one beachside tennis facility for the residents of Ormond Beach as well as all tennis-playing neighbors and visitors," Buenner said. "With attractive programming and a variety of events for members and guests we want to make OBTC as vibrant as it had been many years ago."