Tennis community has reason to celebrate

Recreation Shamrock Park courts have gone from run of the mill to cream of the crop

SAINT JOHN - After years of using less than stellar facilities, tennis players are rejoicing at the sight of the $750,000 upgrades to the courts at Shamrock Park.

                                        

Tom Sweep serves up the ball to Kevin Sears and Jim Gray as he and teammate Brent Hoyt enjoy their first match on the newly renovated Shamrock Park tennis courts on Monday afternoon. Seven courts were torn up and rebuilt, and an eighth court was added.

                                        

                                              Sue Bishop

"We really lobbied and rallied to get this done," said Sue Bishop of the Saint John District Tennis Association and owner of On and Off Court Racquet Sport Boutique.

"It's a state-of-the-art venue," she said. "It's tremendous - it's excellent for tennis."

The upgrades - which wrapped up last week - have been in the works for three years, Bishop said. Most of the construction was done last summer.

Seven courts were torn up and rebuilt, and an eighth court was added, which will allow the city to host more competitive events.

Construction crews installed new fencing and a Musco sports lighting system, the same lighting installed at the Allison Grounds field, said Kevin Carson, parks and facilities manager for Saint John.

The courts have a plexi-plate finish, with two shades of blue instead of the traditional green. The finish allows for more consistent play and bounces, he said.

Carson said after it rains, water won't remain on the courts because of new asphalt.

Part of the problem with the old courts was a cloth membrane under the asphalt that bubbled up with heat, and cracked the asphalt when it froze, he said.

The new courts allow for better drainage.

This has been the first upgrade to the Shamrock tennis courts since the early '90s, Bishop said.

With improvements to the Millidgeville tennis courts slated for next year, Carson hopes this is the start of many more recreational upgrades across the city.

"A lot of recreational facilities have not been updated in many, many years," he said. "Council has recognized the need to upgrade a lot of facilities."

"It just inspires everyone to get out there and play a little," Bishop said.

"Everybody is so excited to get out to Shamrock," she said. "It'll be a real treat."

The Tuesday evening Team Tennis league plays from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. starting tonight. The doubles club starts Thursday evening.

The city's leisure services department is also offering a junior tennis program at the new Shamrock courts for children from five to 17 years of age, starting June 22 until Aug. 14.

For more information, call Jackie Henneberry at 632-6107.

 

Source: Published Tuesday June 9th, 2009 - Telegraph Journal