The privately-owned Delcastle Tennis Center has been part of the Delcastle Recreation Park since 1981, but co-owners Ron Sanna and Boubacar Toure had bigger plans.
About seven months ago, after working a public-private deal with New Castle County, the duo broke ground on a $3 million 6-court facility, which officially opened Friday.
Toure, who played professionally on the Challengers and Satellite circuits before retiring to become a coach in 1984, looked around the area and saw a big gap.
Delaware has just a few indoor tennis facilities, including ones at DuPont Country Club in Greenville and Sea Colony in Bethany, but he saw even the neighboring 4-court facility at Hockessin Indoor Tennis as not being enough to suit the needs of the 18,000 tennis players in the county.
"I think the community needed it. The community has been dying for a tennis center in Delaware that has both indoor and outdoor courts. We have a nearby club that has 4 courts, but they close at April at the end of the contract season. When it rains, there's an issue with players playing with USTA or in leagues. There aren't enough indoor courts, so after many years of hard work, here we are with the indoor facility."
The facility includes 6 full-sized courts with LED lighting and a heating & cooling system that will help in both the cold winters and hot summers, but on the 41-degree day of launch, Toure said going under the roof is a good idea for serious players.
"Wnen it is too cold outside, the ball doesn't bounce properly. The best way to remedy that is to have an indoor facility where you can play inside without having to take a risk of an injury, or a bad bounce."
Connie Hill was one of the first players to take some swings in a doubles match Friday, and was excited at the possibility of a new place to play.
"It's incredibly important, we haven't anything like this ever. My kids grew up playing tennis, but we didn't have any indoor courts of this quality, and the need was incredible."
Court time on the indoor courts will range from $35-50 an hour depending on the day and time.
In addition, there's an observation meeting room for gatherings, with a view of all 6 courts, that they hope will attract tournaments to come to Delaware with the confidence they will get their matches in despite any adverse weather.
Delcastle Tennis Center will also be the home of Wilmington University's women's tennis program. The lack of indoor courts in the state has forced the University of Delaware to use courts in Elkton, Maryland for home matches when they can't play in Newark, while Wilmington was forced to postpone dual meets.
According to New Castle County Executive Matt Meyer, the project was accomplished without the aid of taxpayer money.