SUMMERVILLE – Frequent tennis players at Doty Park are concerned that residents will definitely avoid using the courts if repairs and improvements aren’t made soon.
As tennis has grown in popularity in the Summerville area, particularly with the pandemic, organizers are increasingly receiving complaints, including from professional players, about court maintenance.
The problems range from extremely poor lighting to problems with maintenance and cleaning.
At a recent city council meeting, United States Tennis Association league players Lorel Morris and Beth Ann Armstrong urged officials to do something.
“The lighting is so dark that it is literally dangerous to play on it at night,” Morris said.
Armstrong has lived in the city for eight years. Three of them were spent using the Doty Park courts.
The park is located next to the Rollins Edwards Community Center on North Hickory Street, near downtown. The courts have always been popular, according to Armstrong, and interest in the game continues to grow.
“We know the population of Summerville is increasing,” she said. “It makes sense that there are more people.”
In the USTA league, over 200 players use the courts, paying $ 35 per month per person to use them. More than 16 teams use Doty.
The Summerville High School tennis team also uses the courts. The park is open every day.
The damage and lack of maintenance of the grounds are not the biggest concern of the players in the league; it’s lighting.
At a minimum, they would like to see new lights on the ground. The reason is that many USTA League players use the site at night after working during the day.
Since last summer, they have been lobbying to replace the bulbs. Two of the back courts are often unusable due to lighting and pitch maintenance, the players said.
According to Armstrong and Morris, many league players from other parts of the Lowcountry refuse to play on some of the Doty courts. Many longtime players are either using the courts at the Charleston Tennis Center on Farmfield Avenue or have announced that this season on the courts is their last.
Both said they didn’t want people to think they were too dramatic. They have had situations where players have fallen during games and are concerned that players in the 70 and over league will fall and get injured as well.
Amy Evans, the city’s director of parks and recreation, said she had explored different options to address concerns raised by players in the league.
“The Department of Parks and Recreation and the USTA players are working towards common goals,” Evans said. “By working together, we will be able to regularly improve tennis in Summerville.”
Armstrong and Morris said they have been asking for help since June. Attending the March board meeting was another attempt to get help.
When City Councilor Aaron Brown, an avid tennis player, asked if building more courts would help, Armstrong and Morris agreed. But they also felt that it would be easier and better to deal with the courts that already exist.
“It’s a shame,” Armstrong said. “The city is growing and it doesn’t have to be.”
To reach Jerrel floyd at 843-937-5558. Follow him on Twitter @ jfloyd134.