Wake County

A 50-court tennis center is coming to Raleigh

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Ever wondered what the difference is between Pickleball and POP tennis, two tennis-like sports that seem to be picking up traction in the Lowcountry? We did, too. Here's a quick guide to similarities and differences between the two popular, tennis

A new 50-court tennis complex in the Brier Creek area will be the largest of its kind in Raleigh and the region.

Triangle Racquet Sports wants to create a $25 million complex that will serve a tennis player’s every need: from on-site medical care to prevent or treat injuries to a place to grab a beer and burger after a lesson or match.

“I’m 53 and play tennis three times a week,” said Rob Autry, CEO and founder of Triangle Racquet Sports. “It takes a village to keep me on the court. It takes an orthopedic surgeon, a physical therapist, two different clubs because one has indoor courts and one doesn’t. And we like to have a cold beverage after we play a match. And I have to travel to get my needs met.”

“This is the whole concept,” he said. “To offer everything a player will need.”

After years of discussion, Raleigh recently agreed to lease the 48-acre property at 6121 Mt. Herman Road to Triangle Racquet Sports for $275,000 per year, with a 3 percent annual increase.

Here’s what’s expected:

More than 50 courts including 32 clay courts and 16 hard courts with some covered and indoor. A center court stadium will seat at least 2,500 people for local, regional and national events.

A “family zone” with at least 10 courts open to the public. Reservations won’t be required forthese courts, which could include reduced-sized courts.

An undetermined number of pickleball courts, at least four squash courts and two multipurpose turf fields

A fitness studio that could include locker rooms, places to sell food, child care, saunas and spa services.

A health facility that could include indoor and outside spaces plus equipment for physical therapy.

A technology center to “serve as a sports technology incubator space for entrepreneurs.”

A craft beer and burger shack, a healthy cafe and smoothie bar and “hangout” areas with shaded areas and fire pits.

The lease also spells out the creation of a public park next door withrestrooms, a covered picnic area, paved trails, a playground, dog run and exercise equipment. Nonprofits and organizations will also partner at the complex to offer scholarships to students in need.

The plan is to open in late 2020, Autry said.

‘Still demand’

The city of Raleigh has 110 tennis courts at 25 locations, including 23 courts at the Millbrook Exchange Tennis Center. The largest facility in the area is the 36-court Cary Tennis Park.

William Davis, Cary’s sports venue manager, doesn’t think the new Raleigh facility will over saturate the area.

“We have 36 courts at the tennis park and 25 other public courts throughout the town, and there is still a demand,” Davis said.

Ken Hisler, Raleigh’s assistant director of parks, recreation and cultural resources, called the new complex a game changer for the city and the region.

Tennis is still growing in the Southeast and having 50 additional courts for tournaments and big events will be an economic catalyst, Hisler said. Cary has already partnered with Raleigh to bring tournaments to the Cary Tennis Park and Raleigh’s Millbrook Exchange Tennis Center, Davis said.

The support for the complex has been overwhelming, said Raleigh Council member Stef Mendell, with about 300 emails being sent to the City Council in support of the courts. The new complex will be in her district.

“There is a huge pent-up demand across our city for tennis facilities, and this seems like a real win-win for the community and the city,” she said. “It’s a great thing, and I am really pleased that it passed.”

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