by Marty Simpkins
WAKE FOREST — After months of talking with Wake County school system officials, Wake Forest High School is on track to get their tennis courts resurfaced.
The issue first came up during the girls season last fall. In October, a player from Broughton slipped on the court and fell on her face while warming up before one of the games.
A week later, Sanderson visited Wake Forest and the Spartans’ head coach pointed out two other courts where the paint was peeling. The coach requested not to play on the courts due to safety issues.
After that, Wake Forest High School athletic director Mike Joyner and head tennis coach Cyndi Keller came together and agreed that they can’t hold competitions at Wake Forest High School.
The boys team playing this spring are having their home games played at Heritage High School due to those safety concerns.
Wake Forest High School last resurfaced their courts 14 years ago. Regular tennis maintenance protocols requires courts to resurface every seven years.
Since the incidents during the fall season, the school has been reaching out to Wake County school board officials to see if they could give them the money to resurface the courts. The total cost of the project is $40,000.
Wakefield High School resurfaced their old courts by themselves through their Booster Club. Panther Creek had theirs resurfaced by paying half themselves and having Wake County schools pay for the other half.
"We were prepared to pay for everything ourselves," Keller said. "We asked Wake County to see if they could do half. Our courts were not safe for competition."
In an effort to resurface the tennis courts, the Wake Forest community raised $9,000 since November. However, representatives from the Wake County Board of Education met with Joyner and Keller March 16 to personally take a look at the courts.
"The officials talked to Mike and I was called up to meet with them," Keller said. "The officials gave us a good indication that they’re going to get the ball rolling to get the courts resurfaced."
Wake Forest High School also requested to remove the pine tress hanging over the tennis courts, but Wake County schools officials did not agree to anything as of yet.
Keller said the team could use their extra $9,000 for landscaping around the courts.
"The pine trees hanging over our courts are one of the main problems why our courts are peeling," Keller said. "They cause the courts to be slippery when wet. The pine needles get everywhere."
The damaged tennis courts have caused multiple problems for the players.
Kirke Hooper, the mother of one of the players, Nate Sander, addressed some of the issues her son and the other players have had.
"For practice, Wake Forest High School plays at the school on the damaged courts, but then they play their games at Heritage, which has a different effect
on how they play," Hooper said. "The wind is a lot heavier at the Heritage courts because there’s no wind tunnel."
Hooper also noted a lack of courts open to the public in the town of Wake Forest.
The tennis courts at Flaherty Park are open to the public, but Franklin Academy High School uses those courts for practice and home games, making them less available to Wake Forest High School players.
"Some of the kids at Wakefield and Broughton have tennis courts all over the place to play at," Hooper said. "The Wake Forest community doesn’t have that many courts to play at. Sometimes the courts at Flaherty get overcrowded on the times we want to play and there’s just not enough space."
As of this week, three contractors are bidding for the job of resurfacing the tennis courts. Once the bids have been received, the school system construction/planning department will analyze and select the best contractor based on the price.
The job will then go to the board of education for approval, where it will be confirmed that the courts will be resurfaced by the end of the summer.
"I’m hoping we can have everything done by June," Keller said. "Our desired deadline is August 1, because that’s when the girls’ tennis season starts. The
man I met with said it sounds do-able, barring no incidents."
It takes two weeks to get the quotes in for the contracting job and then six weeks to go through the Wake County schools facilities department to fill out the paperwork. They will determine which company to use for the quote process.
The board of education meets twice per month, so Wake Forest High School is looking for a chance school board members will address the issue by May.