Tennis enthusiasts in East Ridge will have refurbished courts to play on, coinciding with the second week of Wimbledon, the oldest and most prestigious tennis tournament in the world.
The four long-neglected tennis courts at East Ridge High School had new life breathed into them thanks to a $25,000 earmark from the City Council. The final stages of resurfacing work performed by Competition Athletic Services was done on Monday and Tuesday.
“We’ll be done for sure in the next two days,” said Josh Lawrence, the man supervising the work for CAS. “We will be putting up the nets on Tuesday.”
The refurbished courts are the culmination of two weeks of intensive effort by contractors and city staff, said Adam Wilson, Director of Parks and Recreation for the city.
Wilson said step one was bringing in Paul Bunyan Tree Service to remove decades old trees that had been growing along and sometimes through the western fence line of the facility. That left city staff to remove vines and shrubbery that had become a virtual fabric in the fence.
John Williams, a parks and recreation department employee, said it took him the better part of two weeks to get the painstaking job done.
“It was neglected for so many years,” Williams said. “(The job) almost made me never want to play tennis again.”
Wilson said the surface of the four courts then had to be smoothed out where “birdbaths” had been created by surface settling. Cracks, some as large as three-inches wide and five-inches deep, had to be filled in with an acrylic substance, creating a consistent playing surface.
The courts were then painted a brilliant blue – the preferred color of refurbished courts – with a green surface surrounding the playing area. On Monday, employees of Competition Athletic Services taped and began striping the sidelines, baselines and service court areas.
Wilson said the courts will also be striped for pickle ball, the fastest growing sport for those 55-years of age and older. The striping for these courts will be in a “Carolina Blue,” Lawrence said.
Wilson said the existing lighting for the courts is still operable. One bank of light bulbs will have to be replaced.
A portion of the existing 12-foot tall fencing has been rejuvenated, but much still remains to be done, Wilson said.
It is up in the air on when and if a “grand re-opening” ceremony will take place, Wilson said.
Looking to the near future, Wilson said “we want the courts to be available during peak hours for the public to use.”
He said a system is being devised where residents can call the community center and reserve courts for a specific time. Wilson said it would be a good “problem” if demand for court time necessitated reservations.
Wilson said he is encouraging tennis players in East Ridge to start a grass roots tennis club to resurrect the sport in the city. In addition, he asks if someone is interested in providing tennis lessons for novices to contact him to facilitate a plan.