Riverview Park just completed renovations to four of its seven tennis courts with the help of a United States Tennis Association grant.
According to Rick Meyer, the interim director for North Augusta Parks, Recreation and Leisure Services, the Facility Assistance Grant of $23,215 was used to construct wheelchair-accessible sidewalks, provide a flume at the end of the courts to help with drainage, assist with costs to place a new roof over the tennis court restrooms and for new benches on the courts.
The total project cost was $116,400, and the grant awards up to 20 percent of the reconstruction project, said Riverview Park’s tennis professional, Chris Tully, who wrote the grant.
Reconstruction of the tennis courts involves completely redoing the asphalt and color-coated playing surface, and new wind screens, fencing and net posts.
Two of the courts will have lines for QuickStart Tennis, which is for children age 10 and younger. QuickStart reduces the playing size of the court, and uses smaller nets and lower-compression balls, Tully said.
“Players are excited to have them done,” Tully said of the renovations. “It’s a very big plus for tennis.”
Tully said the USTA acknowledges how much tennis has grown at Riverview Park, especially in the past three years.
“The United States Tennis Association is proud to award the maximum grant amount available to recognize the investment North Augusta is making to tennis,” said Maiysha Warren, the national facilities manager for the USTA. “The facility improvements paired with robust programming and the commitment to continue to support the sport are impressive.”
Tennis courts 4, 5, 6 and 7 that were reconstructed were built in 1983. Courts 1, 2 and 3 were built in 1981 and were last resurfaced in 2008.
Meyer said that when the courts were first built, they had to take reservations for court play. But by the late ’90s, the sport had dwindled in popularity, and there was almost always an open court.
Tully began lessons at Riverview Park in 2009 and “built the program from scratch under Rick Meyer’s leadership with his encouragement,” he said.
Riverview Park is now home to 37 adult USTA teams and continues to be the home courts of the North Augusta High School tennis teams. About 300 people play at the courts each month.
“I always knew North Augusta had the right people that want to play tennis,” Tully said, adding that it is a good sport for adults. “It’s just a matter of getting them started.”
Free clinics for all ages are held from 6:30 to 8 p.m. every Wednesday.
“I have 5-year-olds and I have 75-year-olds,” he said.
Tully said he was told by the USTA that Riverview Park needs a clubhouse.
“… This program has gotten way too big to be run out of the trunk of your car,” Tully said the USTA told him.
The master plan for the park includes a clubhouse, but Meyer said the city does not have funding to build it at this time.