By Steven Fletcher Staff Writer
Gloucester Daily Times
---- — A professional sports franchise is coming to make Cape Ann its home.
The Boston Lobsters, Boston’s World TeamTennis franchise, announced Friday that it will call the Manchester Athletic Club home for its 2013 season next summer. The franchise is moving from the Ferncroft Country Club in Middleton, the team’s home court for five years, to the MAC’s facility on Atwater Avenue in Manchester.
With the Boston Lobsters will come a new 1,800-seat show court to be built at the MAC’s SkyJax park. The court will be a recognized World TeamTennis Court, and will also be home to several MAC tournaments and community tennis events.
The team’s marketing head, Darlene Hayes, said they’ll have the show court up before the 2013 season.
“We’ll be ready for opening night in July,” Hayes said.
The show court project, said Hayes, will also include parking on land behind the current Manchester Athletic Club building. What she doesn’t know yet, is how much the whole project is going to cost. Hayes said both the Boston Lobsters and the MAC will fund the project, which is still in design stages.
Hayes added both companies plan to add improvements to the SkyJax facilities as well.
The move is a natural one, said Hayes. The MAC, she said, has a strong tennis program and serves 3,000 tennis players — many of whom actively support the pro team, Hayes added. The new facility, she said, also provides seven indoor courts on-site, in case of inclement weather. Before this, they played indoor games at the Latitude Sports Club in Peabody.
The Boston Lobsters, with a 2012 roster that included noted tour pros John Isner, Jan-Michael Gambill, and Irina Falconi, moved to the North Shore in 2005. The team’s owner, Bahar Uttam, said the team’s success in the North Shore caused them to look for a new venue.
Uttam said the MAC will provide a more permanent home for the Boston Lobsters, whose league includes teams in New York, Washington, Philadelphia, Sacramento and Orange County, Calif., and Kansas City and Springfield, Mo.
“This success in the North Shore is what led to the search for a new venue that will provide permanency and will continue to bring top tennis athletes to the area,” Uttam said in the release.
MAC General Manchester, Keith Callahan, said the club is proud of its association with the team. The club is a U. S. Tennis Association regional training center and a satellite site of iconic tennis coach and trainer Nick Bollettieri, who presents clinics at the MAC annually.
“So many of our tennis players have traveled to Lobster events,” Callahan said. “Now, having the Boston Lobsters at Manchester Athletic Club, we believe will allow our members and residents of Cape Ann … (to) see some of the best tennis to be played in New England.”
Steven Fletcher may be contacted at 1-978-283-7000 x3455, or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter at @stevengdt.