Tennis in the City

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Where to play, what to do!

As an avid tennis player, you wouldn’t dream of letting Chicago’s aggressive winters dictate the time of year you hit the court, and you know all about taking your game inside. But if you’re looking for a new place to play, check out the following members-only fitness centers and the city’s only public sports facility featuring indoor courts.

Midtown Athletic Club/2020 West Fullerton Avenue
773.235.2300,www.midtown.com/clubs/chicago-athletic-club
Midtown Athletic Club has an impressive 18 indoor tennis courts and 35 tennis pros on staff. Membership is initially $400 and requires a monthly fee of $115 an individual, $182 a couple or $221 a family. “It’s possible to walk in without a reservation and find an open court between 12-3pm,” shares Head Tennis Pro Mike Insko. However, you can secure your spot by reserving court time for $30 at non prime-time; $44 at prime-time.

You can also improve your game by taking group or individual lessons between 6am-11:30pm. For players who thrive on competition, there’s a network of leagues that operate for 10 weeks in a round-robin format, where members play one person each week at the same time. You may join leagues for a fee of $14.50-$21/hour – it’s a great option for those who have “a competitive nature that needs to be fed,” says Mr. Insko.

Midtown also offers a variety of classes, even for entire families. For example, Tennis Explorers is a preschool tennis program designed to inspire children through play and imagination. Using a blend of developmentally sound physical activities, tennis skills and storytelling in an on-court environment, kids and parents play together and have fun. The winter course is 10 weeks (Jan. 29-Apr.8), and the $190 fee includes a 45-minute lesson, racquet, backpack, T-shirt, storybook, certificate of achievement and more.

Lakeshore Sport & Fitness/1320 West Fullerton Avenue
773.477.9888, www.lakeshoresf.com

Lakeshore Sport & Fitness houses eight indoor courts, and a membership fee costs $199 -$299 initially, with a monthly fee between $134- $254. Head Tennis Pro/Director of Racquet Sports Danny McDermott advocates playing tennis indoors, particularly because “winter months are dark months,” and playing tennis can help boost your mood by releasing endorphins and providing social connections with others. “People here make lifelong friendships,” he says.

Court time is available on a reservation basis – $26 at non prime-time; $36 at prime-time. Lakeshore also offers group and individual lessons, as well as travel teams and flex-leagues, in which members call one another to issue match challenges. One league, the Chicago Indoor Tennis Association, is just for women and costs $20 an hour for practice (practices are two hours long) and $22 a match.

For a more intense workout, the Cardio Tennis class has players of all skill levels incorporating tennis drills with traditional cardio movements in an hour-long flurry of constant motion. To the tune of rock-n-roll music, participants begin with a warm-up then move into a series of ‘dead ball drills’ and ‘intense games’ like volley war. The workout also features a cardio blast of squat jumps and lunges. “You get a great workout, better than running on the treadmill,” insists Michael Jackson, director of cardio tennis. In the hour-long workout, which costs $12.50, women burn between 500-700 calories and men burn 700-1000. “Because you’re playing a game, you don’t realize how much work you’re doing,” says Mr. Jackson.

McFetridge Sports Center/3843 North California Avenue
77.3 478.2609, www.chicagoparkdistrict.com

Open seven days a week, McFetridge Sports Center houses the only public indoor tennis courts in the Chicago Park District — six total — available on a first-come, first-served basis.

While there’s no membership required for open courts, a $15 yearly membership allows you to book private court time for an additional fee, which varies between $18/hour and $28/hour based on day/time. Reservations are taken up to six days in advance in person or by phone, and cancellations must be made 24 hours in advance.

As part of the $5.4 million renovation of the facility, upgrades to the tennis courts include new lighting and HVAC energy management. McFetridge also offers seasonal leagues for intermediate to advanced players and lessons for players of all skill levels.

By Michelle Phelan

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