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Friday, February 7, 2020

What’s Up with Wyoming’s Tennis Courts?

This drone photo of the tennis courts adjacent to Wyoming High School shows the poor condition of the courts. 
(Photo by Parker Hampton)

By Victory Lee

The Wyoming High School Tennis Team finished their 2019 season strong with impressive matches, promising improvements, and senior Peyton Osha qualifying for State for the third time. Players say, however, that their season is not yet over. They continue to advocate for a concern that worried them throughout the whole season: the deteriorating conditions of the Wyoming tennis courts.

Peyton Osha explained that even in previous seasons, the tennis courts have been all peeling up and cracking, causing significant concerns for the players’ safety. Before the beginning of the season, she attended a city council meeting and delivered a speech detailing why the courts need repair.

To elaborate on the specific dangers that broken courts pose on players, she pointed out that “the older the surface is, the more abrasive it is on your joints and feet. The cracks and missing pieces are tripping hazards and cause the ball to bounce strangely. The parts that are missing create a very slippery surface…the court sometimes peels up under your feet as you step on it.”

In addition to the safety concerns, players shared their honest thoughts about further implications about the courts’ conditions. They explained that many teams didn’t want to schedule a match against Wyoming due to the facilities. Peyton further added, “This is a detriment to our growing program. Also, bad facilities don’t attract good coaches. I would hate to lose our amazing coaching staff all due to bad facilities.” Junior player Olivia Dick echoed her sentiments saying, “It's honestly embarrassing to a degree to host schools and have our courts be in this type of condition. We've slid multiple times during points. The courts are simply a bad reputation for our school…overall just unplayable.”

The sealed cracks and chipped surface of the courts are evidence of the decaying condition of the courts. 
(Photo by Parker Hampton)
Players have taken an active stance on the issue by meeting with the school faculty and city council members to search for an effective method to repair and/or rebuild the tennis courts so that student athletes and other residents can utilize the facility in a safer atmosphere. They argue that a temporary fix at least is better than nothing and if full reconstruction is the deemed to be the solution, it should take place as soon as possible to minimize safety issues, reduce any inconvenience, and uphold the value of Wyoming excellence.

Now, it is important to note that while the courts used for school matches are located right next to the junior parking lot of the high school, they are owned by the City of Wyoming. Thus, the decision of how and when to fix the courts rests on the Wyoming City Council.

 The tennis courts overlook the Wyoming High School stadium, yet they are technically on City of Wyoming property.  (Photo by Victory Lee)
During a brief interview, City Council Member Mr. Jeff LeRoy shared that the council members are on the same page that the repair and reconstruction of the tennis courts are necessary. He clarified that the city is always open to students expressing their concerns for safety but “the decisions left for the city are when and how.”

The City of Wyoming was given an estimate of about $282,000 for the full reconstruction plan. With the overwhelming estimate, the city looks to dividing the burden of funding with related entities, primarily joint funding with the school. According to Wyoming City Manager Lynn Tetley, they have had numerous conversations with the school about the situation. Though they’ve spent some money on sealing cracks temporarily, they see the full reconstruction as the permanent solution since crack sealing only lasts about six months.

Wyoming High School Athletic Director Mrs. Jan Wilking confirmed that the school has offered to pay for 50% of the reconstruction costs based on the analysis that the high school and middle school teams use the courts about 50% of the time. She further assured, “We stand ready to work with the City of Wyoming in any manner possible to get the courts fixed, including contributing funds for our fair share.”

The City of Wyoming maintains the Wyoming tennis courts and shares them
with the Wyoming High School Tennis Team.
After extensive conversations, a temporary agreement has been made between the city and school for the city-school joint funding for full reconstruction in 2021. The council also plans to apply for a USTA grant of $50,000 to further assist funding.

The tennis court issue was officially listed on the agenda for the first meeting of the new Wyoming City Council. With the newly elected council members, the city, school, and players all have their hopes up for the breakthrough towards the most cost and time efficient plan to fix the courts and promote a safer, more convenient athletic environment for Wyoming students and residents.

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