SUDBURY -- The coronavirus pandemic has affected many recreational activities in the province. In Sudbury, the Indoor Tennis Centre had to close its doors for almost four months due to COVID-19 regulations.

Since re-opening at the end of summer, they’ve seen an increase in people wanting to join the club, and board members said that's good news.

“Things have been going surprisingly very well,” said Cliff Richardson, president of the facility's board of directors.

“We’ve actually seen a huge up-kick. We’re seeing a lot of activity and a lot of people are coming out.”

It’s a large facility, so when it comes to following physical distancing guidelines, he said there hasn’t been too many issues. But the centre is following guidelines from the Ontario Tennis Association, Tennis Canada, and Public Health Sudbury and Districts.

“We try to limit people on the court, off the court, crossing over and getting to close in proximity,” said Richardson.

“We’re asking everyone to respect social distancing guidelines. Your mask only comes off when you are down on the court.”

While the bubble was closed for nearly four months, board members and staff came together to implement a new pilot program. Now the bubble not only offers tennis, it also offers pickle ball, which has become very popular, very fast.

Pickle ball popular

“Pickle ball is becoming a huge sport,” said Richardson. “With the restrictions, people aren't travelling, or travelling as much, so this was our year to try this, and see if it would take in Sudbury, and amazingly there's been a huge turnout.”

In the two weeks that the pilot project has been running, the amount of people playing pickle ball is growing.

“There’s lots to learn, but its fun,” said Lorraine Knight, who is new to the game. “I can serve better. We’re just learning the fundamentals, part of the shorter game, just to perk up the game a bit.”

The Indoor Tennis Centre is playing things safe and monitoring the COVID-19 situation in the city, and making sure all members and staff are healthy. Although, things are not completely back to normal quite yet, there is still a variety of leagues and lessons being offered.

“It’s just a lot of fun to get some good exercise,” said Evan Roberts, who takes tennis lessons once a week.

“Rain or shine, cold or warm you can always come here. It’s always a lot of fun, always very comfortable."

Enrolment at the tennis centre is higher than it was before the pandemic, staff said. They say this is due to the fact that snowbirds who typically head south of the border this time of year, are not doing so this year.