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Crosslake will soon have new tennis courts

The Crosslake Community Center will soon be home to four new tennis courts, which will be constructed this summer. Jon Henke, director of parks, recreation and library, said the project of constructing new tennis courts began in 2005.

The two original tennis courts were built in 1974, Henke said, and a third court was added in 1987. The average lifespan of tennis courts is 20 years, and these courts lasted as long as 38 years.

“So they were long overdue to be replaced,” Henke said.

More than 30 percent of the tennis court funding was done through fundraising. The city was awarded two grants for the project from branches of the U.S. Tennis Association — one for $10,000 and another for $28,122.

Fundraising from two local groups, the Raise the Nets Committee and the Tennis Angels Campaign, brought in $15,185.44. Those funds, along with yearly contributions from the city since 2005, bring the total tennis fund to $154,611.

Henke said the U.S. Tennis Association puts the average cost of constructing a tennis court at $50,000 each. Since the community center is putting in four courts for only around $150,000, city staff has found ways to cut costs. The city did the demolition of the old courts itself, and has some of the area prepped and ready to go for new courts.

Construction is still waiting on road restrictions to lift. Heavy machinery can’t be hauled out until spring restrictions are lifted, Henke said, so the late spring has held things up a bit.

Nonetheless, the goal is to have the courts constructed and ready by July 15. The four courts will be in banks of two, with a 6-foot by 12-foot shade structure in the middle.

The fence around the courts will be a little different from most courts. Most courts have a 10-foot fence surrounding the entire court, but the Crosslake courts will have a 10-foot fence at the ends of each court and will slope down to 42 inches on the sides.

Henke said this not only saves money but also makes it easier for sideline viewing because spectators won’t have to look through a fence. It will also get rid of the feeling of playing inside a cage.

Some funding from the U.S. Tennis Association will go to quick-start tennis, Henke said. This program for youth is designed to teach kids tennis on a smaller court, with smaller equipment.

Learners begin on a court only a quarter the size of a regular tennis court, and with balls that have reduced bounce and smaller rackets. Students then build their way up to full-size equipment and court. Quick-start court lines will be painted on the new Crosslake courts, but in a different color than the standard court lines.

Henke believes the courts will get a lot of use.

“I know people see courts sitting empty a lot. These courts are never empty,” Henke said. “They’re probably some of the most-used courts in the county.”

Historically, the courts are used for three weeks out of the summer for youth tennis camp, and league tennis also uses the courts one to two days a week. Other groups play during the week as well.

Henke said the courts are also well-used by vacationers who ride their bikes up from the campground. When there’s no scheduled lessons or league play, the courts are open to anyone.

The community center rents rackets and sells tennis balls to the community. The cost is $4 for a can of balls and $2 an hour for rackets.

With the new courts in this summer, Henke said, the community center hopes to get more participation than ever.