Life June 20, 2017

Spreading the Tennis Love

Eagle facility supports the new growth of an old sport

“The demand has gotten to be so great for tennis—everybody’s at capacity now,” said Greg Patton, men’s tennis coach at Boise State University. Patton noted that Boise has the second largest participation in team tennis in the U.S., after Atlanta. But with outdoor courts, tennis is seasonal, and it’s difficult to play in the winter months as well as in the heat of the summer. “Weather would determine whether they could play or not,” he said. “You’d lose people.”

Enter Eagle Tennis Club, the latest addition to the Treasure Valley’s flourishing tennis facility scene. Opened last fall, the new facility brings 12 new indoor tennis courts to the western side of the valley, as well as a pro shop, locker rooms, and food and beverage service, according to Kara Hoge, owner and manager.

The new facility helps support the burgeoning growth of tennis in Idaho, Patton added. To wit, his team will be playing some of its matches at the new facility.

What makes the Eagle Tennis Club particularly noteworthy is its focus on community activities. For example, in addition to having the BSU tennis teams play there, it is one of the biggest providers of junior programs for ages 4 to 18, which use bigger balls and smaller racquets and are held daily from 4 to 6 p.m. The club also offers a variety of classes, such as free classes for pop tennis—an indoor variation that’s similar to pickleball—and beginner classes for adults and for people who want to get back into playing tennis. While Hoge wouldn’t reveal membership numbers, she said the classes are “full and very successful.”

Hoge is a former Micron computer programmer and has since owned Earth Energy, a horizontal directional drilling company, with her husband. She got interested in tennis after a bout of breast cancer. “I’d fallen in love with tennis eight years ago,” she said. “I’m a breast cancer survivor, and it was on my bucket list to play tennis. A tennis club was not ever anything I thought I’d be doing, but I enjoy it and I have a passion for it.”

Schematic of the club’s plans.

Phase II of the club is intended to include outdoor tennis courts, an upper level of 12 more indoor tennis courts, swimming pools, basketball courts, and a permanent clubhouse to house businesses such as a physical therapist, doctor, day spa, boutique, and restaurants. “All of that is going to be open to the public,” Hoge explained. “The businesses will support everything else.”

Patton calls the Eagle Tennis Club “another feather in our hat” in terms of people understanding what a “viable, vibrant, vital cultural experience” tennis is for the people in the Treasure Valley community. His goal, he said, is to “make tennis a brand, a really important, critical, crucial part of the lifestyle and culture of Boise,” which he says has an expertise that exceeds any other community of its size in the world.

“The great thing about tennis is, a lot of kids maybe aren’t tall enough, big enough, or gifted enough for other sports,” Patton said. “But this is a sport that can take kids who want to be on teams, but they’ve been cut. This is an option for them to play a lifelong sport. All the journals on aging, there’s no argument: People who live longest are the ones who play tennis.”

Greg Patton, men’s tennis coach at Boise State University, is committed to making tennis a critical element of the Boise Culture.

This article appears in the Issue of Territory Magazine.