Salina is about a month away from having 12 new tennis courts at Kenwood Park.
Hutton Construction is making progress with light towers, concrete work and perimeter fencing, with the next big steps being paving and parking work.
Located where the old municipal pool and rodeo grounds used to be, the new tennis courts are part of a city-commissioned project to enrich the tennis presence in the Salina community.
Liz Bothwell, executive director of Salina Tennis Alliance Inc., said the nonprofit organization is excited about the progress of the facility.
“It’s good because as a non-profit organization, our goal is not to make money, but to provide a service to the community,” Bothwell said. “I hope that with this facility we will be able to break down the barriers that traditionally come with people getting involved in sports.”
An updated project schedule
In 2018, the city had created a parks and recreation master plan. One of the concepts in the master plan was to use the gated municipal pool area and rodeo grounds for a tennis center. Salina Parks and Recreation director Jeff Hammond said that’s where the idea was born.
After some legwork to take the idea from a concept to a proposal, the Salina City Commission unanimously passed a resolution in March 2021 to partner with Unified School District 305 and the Salina Tennis Alliance for the $2.6 million project.
The new tennis facility will include 12 lighted courts, new parking and a clubhouse with restrooms, showers and other amenities.
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Construction began in March, with an initial schedule of August for completion. Now, the installation is expected to be substantially complete in the first or second week of November.
Bothwell said Hutton had some small supply chain issues towards the early stages of construction, but since then they haven’t had any significant issues.
By partnering with $305, the city hopes the new facility will attract Kansas State High School Activities Association events. Salina South and Salina Central will host tournaments at the facilities, and Kansas Wesleyan University has expressed interest in hosting events there.
“We are very excited about the future of tennis at our facilities,” Hammond said.
Salina has tennis courts in Oakdale Park, Sunset Park and Jerry Ivey Park. After the construction of the Kenwood Park courts, the Oakdale and Sunset courts will be replaced. The city still hasn’t decided what they will be replaced with.
Ownership and operation of the Jerry Ivey Courts has been transferred to USD 305, which plans to renovate and add four more courts to this location. These courts will be for school use, but also open to the public.
“We had three tennis courts in three different parks that were old and in need of repairs, and weren’t tournament-friendly,” Hammond said. “We knew we needed to upgrade our tennis facilities at our three parks, and this partnership is how the city is doing that.”
Tennis as a hobby
Bothwell said the Salina Tennis Alliance is committed to providing recreational tennis opportunities to the public once the new, yet to be named Kenwood Park facility is complete.
There will be programs and clinics for youth and adults at beginner, intermediate and advanced levels of play.
Youth programs are for ages 5-17 and adult programs are for ages 18 and older.
The establishment will also have equipment available. Bothwell said it’s especially good for families who may have kids interested in sports but aren’t ready to invest in equipment, which can be expensive.
“Another big thing will be the affordability of our programs,” Bothwell said. “People will have the option to participate at $8.75 to $12 per clinic, depending on age level.”
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From mixers and private play to lessons, the Salina Tennis Alliance aims to provide people of all levels of play the opportunity to get involved. For questions or additional information about program offerings, people can email Bothwell at firstname.lastname@example.org.
“(Tennis) isn’t as easy as some people make it out to be, especially as you get older,” Bothwell said. “But it’s so much fun, and if you played another sport as a kid, it’s a little easier.”