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Telcel Tennis Center makes elite sport accessible to all

February 5, 2013

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Tennis has long been considered a “fresa” sport enjoyed mainly by members of Mexico’s elite country clubs, but now anyone can play for a minimal cost at the Centro Telcel de Tenis in Guadalajara’s Parque Metropolitano.

“Before, it wasn’t possible to play tennis unless you belonged to a club, which would cost maybe 80,000 pesos to join,” says Mario Berruti, director of the Tennis Center. “Then you have monthly fees of around 2,500 pesos, plus perhaps the additional cost of classes.”

In contrast, renting a court at the Telcel costs just 105 pesos per hour, or 200 pesos at night to cover the additional costs of the floodlighting, Berruti reveals. He urges guests to take advantage of the world-class facilities on offer, noting that “many people don’t realize it is open to the public. They think it must be private because it looks nice.”

Built by the state and federal governments ahead of the Guadalajara 2011 Pan American Games, the Tennis Center was inaugurated by U.S. legend Andre Agassi in October 2010. It is a very modern and impressive venue.

“There’s nowhere like this in all of Latin America,” Berruti boasts, pointing out that the complex also includes 550 parking spaces – which cost just 10 pesos a day – plus restaurants, changing rooms, and of course, the tennis courts.

“There are 13 courts, eight of which have mini stands,” he explains. “Every two of these courts have room for 1,000 spectators, while the main court has a capacity of 2,700.”

The courts are open everyday from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. (8 p.m. at weekends). Around 600 to 700 people come to play every week, Berruti says, warning that those who wish to play in the afternoon or evening must make a reservation, as the courts are always full from around 4 p.m. to 10 p.m.

Berruti, who was born in Buenos Aires but has lived here for 33 years and is now a naturalized Mexican, handles the management, promotion and marketing of the venue.

An experienced tennis player, he has coached Mexico’s best players, written about the sport for local daily El Informador and appeared regularly on the radio and on television, including a 17-year stint on “Tenis Vision” on Canal 8.

A recent career highlight was organizing the tennis during the Pan American Games. “It was an honor and something I’ll never forget,” Berruti says.

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The next major event at Guadalajara’s Tennis Center will be the third annual Jalisco Open in April, with the winner set to claim a prize of 100,000 dollars. The venue also hosts other tournaments with 10,000-dollar prizes, plus competitions between representatives of different universities or businesses from across Mexico.

The private Universidad Panamericana and the public University of Guadalajara both make use of the courts, with the former offering grants for up to 90 percent of student fees to promising young tennis players, who receive coaching from Berruti himself.

The cost of regular classes ranges from 735 to 2,363 pesos per month, depending on age, ability and the time and frequency of classes (there is also a one-off inscription charge of 554 pesos).

Having been designed with the Parapan American Games in mind, the Tennis Center has excellent disabled access and also runs classes for adults and children in wheelchairs. The coaches also run free sessions for local orphans, with the aim of using tennis to promote social good.
Berruti believes that kids need a star to look up to in order for tennis to truly catch on in Mexico. Fifty years ago, Mexico produced one true world-beater in Rafael “Pelon” Osuna, he remarks, but few youngsters know of him today.

Osuna was an amateur who became the world number one, winning the singles and doubles competitions at the U.S. Open; twice winning the doubles title at Wimbledon; and leading Mexico to its only Davis Cup final appearance in 1962.

While Jalisco has produced few tennis heroes, there is no shortage of role models to inspire locals to take up swimming or diving lessons at the equally impressive Scotiabank Aquatics Center next door to the Tennis Center.

Four divers from Guadalajara won medals at the London 2012 Olympic Games and with 3,500 children coming to swim and dive here every week there is every chance that there are more future medalists among them.

The Aquatics Center will host the World Swimming Championships in 2017 and you too can swim there or take classes from 500 to 1,100 pesos per month (350 to 800 pesos for kids).

The Centro Telcel de Tenis is located in the Parque Metropolitano at Avenida Economos 6600, Estancia, Zapopan. To reserve a court or for more info on the tennis and aquatics centers call (33)3125-4595. For more on the tennis center visit http://www.centrodetenis.com.mx/site/index.php?/horarios/ or http://www.facebook.com/CentroTelcelDeTenis.

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2 Comments leave one →
  1. August 30, 2014 04:47

    I like your article so that I read all of your articles in a day. Please continue and keep on writing excellent posts.

  2. Blake Argo permalink
    November 22, 2016 14:34

    Thank you for this article! I follow tennis in America but not really in Mexico. I am happy to hear that there are strides being made to make tennis available to more people. I have played tennis since I was little. I was always disappointed in the tennis facilities at most colleges. I was so excited to hear that Mark Hurd f is working hard to revitalize tennis at the collegiate level but he is also trying to improve American tennis overall. He has plans to sponsor collegiate tournaments, create a new American tennis circuit, and possibly start a junior academy in California. I think that Mark Hurd is really going to turn this sport around.

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