Tennis courts

Tennis courts are more missed than touched in RI

Last week I passed by the Cranston East women’s tennis match against West Warwick, played at West Warwick. One thing that stood out to me was the quality of the courts in the public courts in the city, which was fantastic.

The grass was totally intact with a light paint. Nets were tight, untied, fences and gates were secure with proper seating areas.

I know I’m nitpicking here, but when I started thinking about the quality of tennis courts in Rhode Island, I realized there was a lot to be desired for the most part.

Pilgrim, for example, baffles me. The surfaces are totally uneven and poorly painted. I think of Winman Middle School where Toll Gate plays… the nets sag. Park View Middle School hosts Cranston East and recently had a facelift but before that same issues.

Unfortunately, tennis is one of those sports that doesn’t have the same shine as the others. It all starts at the youth level, where youth programs are rare and many of them are expensive. There just isn’t a tennis population like there are for other sports.

However, there are plenty of tennis players and teams that deserve better.

When you think about it, these courts are used in both fall and spring and are also used by the general public. I know everything has a cost and that kind of thing doesn’t come cheap. But at the end of the day, whether in our coverage area or not, there are few tennis courts in the state that measure up.

For Pilgrim and Toll Gate in particular, I still hold out hope that one day they will see the major restoration of Mickey Stevens. I don’t like their ratings, but I don’t rule it out entirely. Part of the renovations would include new tennis courts. Speaking of Mickey Stevens, I’ve been there for baseball a few times over the summer and was shocked to see the locals using the courts. These are pretty much the worst I’ve ever seen for all the aforementioned issues I’ve raised.

It’s really not that difficult…a flat surface that is not cracked, with clearly painted lines and threads intact and complying with official requirements. That’s all.

I’ll give you my weekly football thoughts to end this week’s column.

First, Hendriken held on to another big win over North Kingstown.

I know I’m stressing this a lot, but when you look at the way this game went, how can people say that public schools don’t stand a chance against Hendricken and La Salle? The Skippers took the lead early and nearly came back in the end. It wasn’t a night off for the Hawks, they were pushed to their limit and had to hold on for fourth.

I get it, Hendriken won again. At some point, however, one of these teams will get the job done. North Kingstown almost did it last week, Central should have done it last season, the Skippers almost did it two years ago. Every season there’s at least one nail biter, and the Hawks have to dig deep to get the win.

I’m not for a private school division like I’ve said in the past, and games like last week prove they’re not necessary.

On the other side of town, Toll Gate fell 43-7 at Coventry to fall to 0-2.

Toll Gate is undergoing a total rebuild this fall with a new coaching staff and a young squad. Growing pains were to be expected and the Titans were the underdog against the Oakers, who appear to have the makings of a championship contender.

My question is, how long do we wait before deciding Toll Gate’s future and what division does he play in? It wasn’t too long ago that it was a playoff team in Division IV, but it struggled in Division III.

Last season when it was scaled up I don’t think the program was unable to compete in Division III, I just think it was a terrible time to scale it up. Rewind two years ago, this Toll Gate team, in my opinion, would have been fine in a division above. Last year though, the team lost a bit and the rug was pulled out from under them. It just wasn’t the time and now the team is getting beat up as they try to rebuild.

Obviously, there is nothing to do this fall, the team is in Division III and that’s how it is. I just wonder what we will need to see from this team to determine where they stand for next season. Should he make a total of 180 in the next two months to stay in DIII? No, not necessarily, but there’s only a limited number of 36-point shellakings he can take before pulling the plug and bringing it back to Division IV. There’s no shame in doing it if that’s what it is.

The Cranston West team had a great rebound week against Burrillville, where they won by multiple scores.

After a dwindling 2021, this season is set to be a rebound year as the Falcons flip much of their same roster. The team had the game in hand against West Warwick the previous week but saw it slip away, so many of us wondered where this team fit in the Division II picture.

Well, with that kind of response against a program like Burrillville, I think it’s clear that this team will be competitive in this new division. The question is, how high is the ceiling?


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