By Nadine Moedt (The Cascade) – Email

Print Edition: June 3, 2015

Photo Credit Steven Pisano : FlickrThe season for outdoor tennis has arrived, alongside summer’s long dry days and warm nights. With over 20 public courts in Abbotsford, tennis offers a perfect exercise option to save on a gym membership.

When you are considering Abbotsford’s wide range of courts to choose from, think about where you’ll feel most comfortable. If you are a new player, look for something that will offer some privacy; a court that is standalone (you won’t have someone playing right beside you), or more youth-oriented won’t make you feel judged with every missed serve. If you like playing during the day, find a location that is well-shaded. For those of us who prefer playing late into the evening, Abbotsford is home to a handful of lit courts as well. Here are some options when selecting your home court.

MSA arena courts

The MSA arena hosts a four-court cluster on Emerson Street. While the number of courts might suggest a low wait time, it’s a popular destination for tennis enthusiasts. If you arrive at peak playing time (around 7 p.m.), you may find you have to sit out for a match or two. However, the site is equipped with a practice wall to use while you wait. For those who are just starting out, this court doesn’t afford any privacy; if you have a tendency to hit the ball out-of-bounds, you will have unappreciative neighbours. The courts are lit until 10 p.m., so if you’re a shy player, or don’t want to risk a wait, come later in the evening — or during the day if you can take the heat.

DeLair park courts

DeLair park offers my favourite of Abbotsford’s free courts, nestled in a treed park beside soccer and baseball fields. The two lit courts are less popular, likely because they are a little further out of the way of dense residential areas, which means a lower wait time. It’s the perfect court to play on without an audience, and by early evening shade from a nearby tree protects players from the sun.

MEI courts

While several of Abbotsford’s schools maintain tennis courts, the courts at MEI are by far the nicest. The facility offers four well-maintained courts in a shaded area of the school. For parents, a nearby playground can entertain children within view of the courts. You’ll find a younger average age of players, which certainly defuses any pressure to perform. The only downside of this location is its limited hours; it isn’t a lit court, so on schooldays public access is limited to after school and before dusk.