Last summer, children played in puddles at the deteriorating tennis courts in Mont Pleasant. The surface had worn away to the point where water collected on the courts, adding a new dimension to the game as children slipped between volleys.
No longer. The Capital Region Youth Tennis Foundation, 15-Love, rebuilt the courts this year for $350,000. Children got to play there for the first time Monday afternoon.
Despite the chilly weather, they lined up at every court to play.
“The courts were just at the point where they were unplayable,” 15-Love Executive Director Amber Marino said.
But more than 150 children played there every summer in the 15-Love program.
“This is an important neighborhood,” she said. “We don’t want to leave.”
Instead, the agency went looking for help. In addition to grants from local foundations, they got free assistance from each of the contractors who worked on the job. The city also sent workers in for free to remove the trees, fencing and asphalt in preparation for the project.
The new courts came at just the right time. The United States Tennis Association changed their rules in January for players age 10 and under. They must play on smaller courts, so the Mont Pleasant facility now includes six courts for them. There are eight courts for older players.
As one of the players waited Monday politely for politicians to move out of the way so she could serve to her opponent, she said she will take full advantage of the new courts.
“We live close here and we can play more tennis now,” said Naomi Spivey, 14. “It has more space to play.”
Her twin sister Nirel added, “Before, it had weeds growing out of the fences and glass all over the courts. It had dents in it so when it rained it would get slippery.”
Now, she said, the transformation is unbelievable.
“I never seen anything like it,” she said.