Tennis courts

Renovation of Armstrong tennis courts in Norwich will be completed in 2023


NORWICH — The sight of bouncing tennis balls and the sound of screaming sneakers will soon return to the Armstrong tennis courts.

Last week, crews were pouring the new concrete for the Armstrong tennis courts, which have been closed since 2019. The project is expected to be completed by late spring or early next summer, the public works director said Norwich, Patrick McLaughlin.

“They won’t be ready for the spring high school tennis season because the coatings need warm enough temperatures to apply,” he said.

The cost of the project is just under $480,000, according to the September minutes of the tennis select committee.

Workers pour 380 meters of concrete for four new courts at Armstrong Tennis Courts in Norwich on October 27, 2022. The old courts were clay.

The tennis courts were originally clay, as it is a professional level tennis surface. The Armstrong Courts were a labor of love of resident Steve Armstrong, who pioneered their creation in the 1940s and helped maintain them until his death in 1989.

As popular as the clay surface is, it is both fragile and expensive to maintain. So the city decided to use concrete, which is a low-maintenance surface when new.

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“It’s a real art to maintain (clay courts),” said McLaughlin.

It was decided to use concrete, not asphalt, for the surface, as it is the stronger of the two. The city also needs to repair Stanton Elementary School’s asphalt tennis courts because they have shrinkage cracks, McLaughlin said.

What do the new tennis courts mean for the Norwich Free Academy?

The opening of the Armstrong Courts again helps the Norwich Free Academy, which uses the adjacent grounds in the city for school sports. The school uses the Stanton, Jenkins Park and Norwich Tech tennis courts.

Norwich Free Academy must either swap services with Norwich Tech or pay to use the other school’s courts, but sporting director Roy Wentworth declined to say how much it costs.

Having a home court helps with logistics, said Wentworth, who is also on the ad hoc committee.

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“We wouldn’t have to check Norwich Tech’s schedule to be able to use and compete on their grounds,” he said.

Overall, it’s a recreational benefit for the public, McLaughlin said.

“There is a part of the population that wants to use these tennis courts,” he said.

Why are only four of Armstrong’s six tennis courts repaired?

While the city is repairing the courts, only four of Armstrong’s six courts were approved for repairs two months ago. However, it’s still possible to fix the other courts, McLaughlin said.

“There is a playing landscape in the area that could be moved, but at the moment we want to get the four courts built and go from there,” he said.

Six courts would have been “the perfect replacement,” especially since high school games wouldn’t take so long, Wentworth said.

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“When you have doubles and singles you can play more matches in a row, but like I said four is better than none,” he said.

There’s also the $195,000 LED lighting project for the tennis courts, cut from the city’s US bailout funds spent in June.

Going forward, there should be more forms of recreation being considered in the town, including a community swimming pool, Wentworth said.

However, there will soon be pickleball courts at Norwich Senior Center as the sport has grown in popularity in the city, McLaughlin said.

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