The old tennis center, located next to Pyrtle Technology building has seen many tennis matches in its day and, according to TJC’s plans, there will be many more soon to come.
“Well, the center was deteriorating, so we could either fix them up or tear them down, so we’re going to fix them up,” Dr. Mike Metke, TJC president, said. “We’re going to try to spend the least amount of money to make them look the best that we possibly can.”
Rumors had spread ideas about parking lots and other projects to replace the old tennis center.
“I thought they were going to be turned into a parking lot,” said Mwalimu Phiri, a TJC student as well as member of the TJC tennis team. “I had heard that brought up in class.”
“We’re resurfacing with newer technology,” said TJC Athletic Director Tim Drain. “The courts should be about seven inches taller than they currently are with post tension concrete courts.”
“That should prevent most cracking that would happen on regular courts,” Drain said. “We’ll know a lot more in about two months, but I think the surface of all the courts from both centers should match each other.”
From national championships, to being the training grounds for hundreds of players, the old courts have definitely seen a lot.
“My first national championship with the guys was won on those courts in ’89 or ’90,” said Coach John Peterson, head tennis coach for 21 years. “I’ve had a lot of memories on them, but the fact that the new facility is in the same location makes it not upsetting at all.”
At the arrival of Coach Peterson, the courts constituted a very nice small college tennis facility. However, as the years went on, centers from other schools slowly began to degrade the facilities.
The first half of TJC’s tennis facility was constructed in the ’60s, and the other during the Fred Kniffen coaching era. Coach Kniffen was the varsity tennis coach of Tyler Junior College at that time and also began the tennis tech program.
Prior to the hiring of John Peterson in 1987 as head tennis coach, the courts actually hosted the national tournament for both men’s and women’s events.
The courts also draw a very large recreational crowd. The center has hosted dozens of USTA, United States Tennis Association, events and tournaments over the years.
“We want to try to bring National events to our center,” Metke said. “With the new tennis facilities, we can hopefully host some larger USTA tournaments.”
The construction of tennis courts is usually a somewhat timely process to complete. From laying the concrete all the way to the fencing, the process usually takes several months to complete the total process.
The renovation of the tennis center is currently in the process of going out for bids. However, prior to this process the construction should begin. The opening of the new courts could come as early as late spring.