What’s Happened To Wilcox’s Tennis Courts?


The need to repair the tennis court and surrounding areas is made clear upon observation. Courtesy of Yusuf Perwez

Yusuf Perwez, WATW Editor

For around 60 years, Wilcox’s tennis courts have stood without any major overhaul. Time has worn on them greatly, and access to them was recently blocked off due to their dilapidation. Now the courts are known to most students as little more than the mysterious, quarantined construct that lies on the track’s outskirts—a testament to a far-bygone age of Wilcox.

Numerous issues have plagued Wilcox’s tennis courts over the years. The courts and pavement nearby have become cracked and uneven, deteriorating them to the extent seen in the attached images. These might normally be remedied with a resurfacing, yet two factors have prevented this. Firstly, according to project Bond Director Larry Adams, the soil under the courts is highly expansive. This means it swells and shrinks in dry and wet seasons, cracking the current surface and threatening to crack a new surface if one is installed. Secondly, asbestos fibers were found in the paving used to build the courts 60 years ago. Mr. Adams has cited this as “the biggest issue” with the courts, as, if disturbed by major repair work, the asbestos can pose a serious cancer risk to passersby.

 For the most part, the tennis team has managed to adjust by going around to other school courts to practice, a situation detailed further in a previous article in The Scribe. But the courts’ situation still stands as quite the inconvenience for them, as well as quite the ominous, potentially-cancerous-if-disturbed eyesore for students running the track. 

It follows, then, that recent years have seen multiple proposals to replace the tennis courts. However, due to issues securing funding and COVID-related scheduling delays, fixing the courts’ issues has been delayed for some time. This has continued until recently when a project was finally able to be put into action to address the courts’ issues.

The project foremost involves a complete overhaul of the six tennis courts. Each one will be completely removed alongside adjacent paving with new courts being built in their place. A brand-new seventh court will also be built. This is an especially crucial addition because of the way matchmaking between schools works; usually, the matches will occur between four singles players and three doubles teams. With only six courts, one set of teams always has to wait for another to finish before beginning their match, often adding 30 minutes to an hour of waiting. 

The project won’t just benefit our tennis teams, either, as it also involves other important repairs needed around the tennis court area. These include the visitors and home side bleachers, as well as the no man’s land that are the snack bar and attached restrooms. These repairs were all lumped together for efficiency purposes; according to Mr. Rosa, the main benefit is that “[the school is] not going through the state process multiple times; it’s just a one-shot deal.” 

When asked, Principal Gonzalez shed some light on what the timeline for all this repair work is looking like. The project is currently in the process of getting approval from the Division of the State Architect—DSA, for short. Principal Gonzalez has cited this as the slowest part of such a process, mentioning that even equipment cannot be ordered without DSA approval. 

Tentatively, the process is meant to begin in July 2023. Construction of the home side bleachers, snack shack area, and restroom should be in mid to late October, as well as the tennis court construction in fall/winter. Yet the courts’ surfacing requirements will delay the project end by a sizable amount as December and January do not allow for the maintained 60 degrees required for the surfacing process. The current end date for the project looks to be around April to May 2024.

If the tentative timeline is correct, Principal Gonzalez has confirmed that the resurfacing is posed to impact the logistics of summer programs/practices, next year’s fall, winter, and spring sports, as well as runs on the track for PE. But that can be seen as a relatively small price to pay when considering that, for the first time in decades, the Wilcox track’s bleachers, snack shack, and tennis courts will be able to shed their timeworn exterior (and cancerous interior) and be reborn anew once more.