If anyone knows their way around the Tennis Manitoba Hub @ Deer Lodge, it’s Chris Enquist.
He first became a member at Deer Lodge in 1979. Enquist is now a member at Tuxedo Tennis Club, but he was thrilled to see his old stomping grounds remain a tennis club. There was a threat of the club being demolished or turned into something else before Tennis Manitoba stepped up and entered a lease agreement with the City of Winnipeg to operate Deer Lodge Tennis Club.
“It felt like being home,” Enquist said.
“It was nice to see. We were all thinking ‘Ah geez they’re just gonna be building condos there.’ The place, Deer Lodge, was established there in 1924. It’s been in St. James for a long time. My mother (Evelyn Enquist) was a member there and when I told her it had closed up and everything, she seemed disappointed as she’s a St. James girl and it’s been here for a long time. She played there back in 1949. Everyone was worried so it was nice to see it will stay as a tennis facility.”
The courts recently underwent some maintenance in order to get them ready for action. Enquist was there last Saturday to set up the nets and windscreens. He stuck around for some doubles play as well.
“As a bunch of proud Deer Lodge members, we thought the club was going downhill and looking pretty shabby,” he said.
“There was trees growing out of the net posts and shrubs all around the fence. It was kind of sad the way the club was going because lots of us have been there for years. So we kind of complained about that and then shortly after that it was closed down. So, it’s looking better.”
The 62-year-old Enquist is looking forward to spending a lot of his time this summer playing tennis. He said his wife refers to herself as a “tennis widow” in the summer as he spends the most of his free time on the courts. Deer Lodge, which now operates on a pay to play model, will continue to be an option for Enquist, but something is missing from the good ol’ days.
“We used to have a giant tennis racquet in there. I don’t know if it’s 15-20 feet long, but it disappeared (when the city put the club up for lease). I don’t know if the moving company who took all the furniture and stuff moved it to wherever they took it to… That’s a part of Deer Lodge’s history that went missing here in the last two years which is kind of sad.”