RENSSELAER – It’s unclear whether this will make Rensselaer Central’s tennis teams champions, but the high school’s new tennis courts are certainly impressive.
On Thursday, school administrators, Rensselaer Central School Board members, developers and contractors were on hand for an official groundbreaking ceremony for the new courts.
Constructed of cement painted red and gray and surrounded by fencing that no longer sags, the courts are perhaps the crown jewels of the company’s most recent construction projects.
“I’ve seen them a lot and I’ve seen them built over the last six months,” said RCSC Superintendent Curtis Craig, “and I always walk past and think, ‘Wow. Aren’t these things beautiful? Sometimes projects click and this is probably the best I’ve seen.
Context Design of Indianapolis served as the landscape architect on the project and PCC Sports of Missouri was responsible for constructing the courts.
Craig said input from several people was sought to ensure the project was done well, especially after the company decided to replace the old crumbling asphalt courts with a more expensive but more durable cement surface. .
“We’re lucky to have a school board that had the vision to make this a reality,” Craig said. “I would like to thank our school board for having the vision and the commitment to say that we are going to put in something good and we are going to make it really good for our children and our community.
Ken Hickman, the school’s athletic director, came up with the idea of moving the courts several feet east of their previous position to prevent foul balls from the baseball field to the north from disrupting play and causing wounds.
The RCSC was planning a hiatus in the girls’ season in the spring and the boys’ tennis season in the fall, but court construction ended just as the boys’ season began to resume in September.
RCSC Board Chairman Gary Braasch said the cement courts, while not entirely maintenance-free, are expected to withstand Indiana weather for several decades.
“It’s not often that we spend money in society where you can actually see what we’re spending it on,” he said. “It’s usually a chiller, a boiler, a water heater. The public does not see it. You can see the tennis courts here and I can’t tell you how many positive comments we’ve already had about their beauty. We just look forward to many years of service with these.
After the grand opening was over, members of the Bombers men’s tennis team got to work beating Knox to close out one of the program’s most successful seasons.
Nole Marchand, No. 2 in singles, was thrilled to play on the new surface when training began in August.
“I’ve been playing tennis since my freshman year and I was waiting for us to have new courts,” he said. “The old courts had very bad cracks. I’m just glad we have new ones, especially in a year when we’re doing so well.
Marchand was able to use his quickness more on the cement surface, resulting in a winning record in his senior season.
“I feel like I can hit the ball harder. It definitely hits concrete differently than asphalt,” he said.
1 player Tommy Boyles said the courts had provided a boost of energy even before the start of the season.
“I think the tennis courts have helped a lot because it makes us more excited to come here every day and not worry about cracks. It makes us enjoy it more, I guess,” he said.
“Some of the gaps (in the old asphalt surface) were quite wide and you could roll your ankle.”
Players can also change direction without slipping, Boyles added. “Your feet have a better grip on the ground and you don’t have to worry about slipping,” he said. “And the ball comes out of the cement better.”
The Bombers have had better success this season thanks to the new fields, but the roster is also filled with seasoned players. The top three singles players are all seniors and two of the four players on the doubles teams are seniors.
Marchand said he hopes the sight of the new courts will bring more excitement to tennis programs.
“I hope that after all of us, the seniors of the lower class than us, will continue to play tennis and that we will have more people. We have over 16 every year so hopefully that will continue,” he said.
Boyles added: “I think nicer courts will get more people to come watch us and play tennis. Hopefully this will help it continue to grow.
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