By Sue Botos
One look at the worn spots at the base lines of the Tri-City Park tennis courts tells the story of the countless games, sets and matches played there over 20-plus years. Many of those were home meets for the Rocky River High School tennis teams, which have no court on school grounds and use the Tri-City facility for practice as well as competition.
Now the old courts could use a little love, in the form of repairs, and the district is searching for ways to finance the work.
At a recent school board committee session, Superintendent Michael Shoaf said that he had been approached by the city concerning a partnership with the district that would help fund a face-lift for the tennis facility.
As part of a co-op agreement, funding and maintenance of the park is shared by Rocky River, Fairview Park and Westlake, which border the 15-acre site. While the official address of the park is 3640 Delmar Drive in Rocky River, the driveway is off of Westwood Road in Fairview Park.
The partnership came about after the land, which served as a Nike Ajax and Hercules missile site during the Cold War of the 1950s and 1960s, became a park in the early 1970s.
“We’re the only school that competes there,” Shoaf said, explaining why the ball is basically in Rocky River’s court when it comes to care of the tennis facility.
Shoaf said that he spoke to boys’ varsity tennis coach Jeff Sinnema, who said that for the eight courts to remain a competitive venue, they had to be repaired, or new courts had to be added to the present three at the middle school. Sinnema said that five courts are needed at minimum to support a varsity program, preferably six.
Replacement of one asphalt court could cost between $30,000 to $50,000, according to Shoaf. Repairs to the current facility, including resurfacing, grading and nets, would run $14,000 each. These repairs are estimated to last about six to eight years.
“I highly doubt we have a better alternative,” stated board member and Finance Committee Chairman Scott Swartz. He added that renting courts would cost “much more than $14,000.”
According to information provided by the U.S. Tennis Association, there is more to building a tennis court than pouring asphalt and putting up a net. The ground must be compacted and a 6- to 8-inch stone subgrade installed for drainage and to minimize freeze and thaw damage. After the 3- to 4-inch asphalt surface is applied and cured, an acrylic surface and two coats of color are applied.
Shoaf suggested that the various clubs and organizations that use the courts be approached for help with funding, and that he would consult with athletics Director Mark Wagner for a financial plan. “The more that help out, the better it becomes,” he stated.