How do we solve the problem with the town’s tennis courts
Photos of damaged courts are attached along with a photo of college freshman, Eva Obrador, and high school senior Luke Tahmoush teaching kids in the summer tennis program.
By M.S. Phillips
Back in the day the Hopedale town park and bath house was bustling during the summer months. Kids would go fishing, take swimming, and tennis lessons and even archery. The park still offers some of these great programs along with arts and crafts at the bandstand and fun field trips to the local movie theater, zoo and waterslides.
Our town park tennis courts not only benefit the residents and our summer tennis program, which started over 50 years ago, but they are also the only courts available to the high school tennis team.
For the past two decades families could watch tennis matches at the town park and enjoy the success of both girls and boys tennis teams who went on to win many district championships and play in state championships. The boys team played in four Division 3 state finals in 2017, 2018, 2019 and 2021 falling to powerhouse Weston each time and the girls have played in three Div.3 state finals falling to powerhouse Martha’s Vineyard in 2015 & 2016 and to Manchester Essex in 2018.
Having kids participate in this summer program and learn to play at a young age has been the biggest foundation for the high school tennis teams success over the years. Some of these kids even continue to play in college.
Barry Gorman, a graduate of Hopedale High was the director of the Summer program for over 15 years, until he left to take on bigger role as head coach and wellness coordinator at Roger Williams University in 2015. Barry also took lessons as a kid in the late 90s and played tennis in high school and college.
Over 100 children and 30 adults participated in this popular and thriving program under his leadership with a very competitive, but fun round robin championship tournament in August.
It would be a shame if we lost this beloved program due to deteriorating courts.
Students who were coached by Gorman back when they were kids are now the tennis instructors of the current summer program.
For the past three years the high school tennis team hasn’t been able to host any home matches due to illegal lines and damaged courts. If you’ve visited the park recently or your child has participated in the park’s summer program you’ve probably noticed the tennis courts are in horrible condition. It’s really an embarrassment to our players and the town .
The courts have been in dire need of repair for several years due to poor drainage issues that continues to cause deep cracks in the asphalt along with heaving and buckling.
Heavy rain that runs off Freedom Street is a major problem and can sometimes flood the park and playground. The drainage problem needs to be addressed and repaired before any construction can begin on the courts.
Due to rising costs of asphalt and current freight costs with the pandemic each court could cost over $100K to repair cracks, patch bonding, resurface, repaint, repair net post footings, and root intrusions in the asphalt. We would also replace the old green wood backboard that has been damaged from lacrosse balls and vandalism.
The town’s first tennis courts were built in the early 1900s with a dirt surface. They were then refurbished with clay in 1947 and then in asphalt in 1975. The courts were resurfaced and or repaired along with basic maintenance for many years.
Most of this information on the courts and summer program can be found on the time capsule of the park commission meeting minutes, See link below
For the past year members of town parks department, highway department, town administrator and high school athletic director have worked together to tackle the issue. Along with researching grants, we hope to repair these courts, but it will take some time since the pandemic and inflation has caused delays with getting companies to give quotes, and delays in getting materials.
Mike Reynolds and the Parks Department are working with
the town administrator, Diana Schindler who will contact one of the feasibility study engineers that are currently working on the Hopedale St. intersection and Freedom St bridge to look into the town park’s drainage and any other construction issues.
It makes sense to have this study completed before spending thousands of dollars to repair the court surfaces. Schindler has experience finding grants to help fund the survey which could cost up to $40k
Many grants are available to towns including the PARC (Parkland Acquisitions and Renovations Communities and the USTA Grant that our athletic director, Stephanie Ridolfi previously applied for back in 2020, but due to the pandemic, grants were put on hold.
We will apply for the USTA again once we can get quotes confirmed.
Jim Abbruzzese and members on the Recreational Ad- Hoc Field Committee and Open Space & Recreation Planning committee are working to get the Open Space Plan back in fruition to be be able to apply for these grants.
We can also find grants with the CPA- Community Preservation Act and with the Central Mass. Regional Planning.
The Friends of Hopedale Park, a non- profit group is also being established again.
The Mendon Parks & Recreation Department has taken full advantage of these generous grants to fund their projects and renovate their tennis courts back in 2016.
If you would like to join the recreation planning committee and help find additional grants to repair our courts, please contact the the Parks Department at [email protected]