Six years is a long time.
That’s how long it’s been since the Wyoming Area boys tennis team has had a home match on Boston Avenue in Exeter. This fall’s girls tennis team had to play on Pittston Area’s courts in Hughestown for each of its home matches.
Because of deteriorating facilities, neither team has been able to have a place they call home for quite some time.
And now, the newly formed Wyoming Area Tennis Boosters are trying to find some footing to renovate the four courts that sit across from Jake Sobeski Stadium.
All four courts are in dire need of resurfacing. There are 400 to 500 feet of cracks on the courts. Also, the nets are completely worn down and some parts of the surface is tearing away from the ground.
“I certainly benefited form those courts,” Wyoming Area Tennis Booster Club president Mike Thomas said. “They’re in pretty bad shape from the surveys we got. Every time they get a contract to do a courts they are giving up prices near $200K.”
The school district was approached about the pending problem facing the sport a few years ago, but only crack sealer was the answer. That led the program to take matters into its own hands. And now, it’s hoping to see the benefits.
The courts were reconditioned after the Agnes Flood in 1972. But Thomas noted that the correct base was not put on the courts. And now, the courts are starting to wilt.
But without the help of some local people, this could be a lost cause for the Wyoming Area clubs, who have been utilizing Pittston Area’s courts in Hughestown for their matches.
Step one for the boosters is the possibility of corporate money thrown their way via sponsors for the project. Former Wyoming Area coach Tony Callaio said the project would cost between $160-$260k.
The idea is to hope for money to finish the courts, but to also show the community’s appreciation with sponsorship on the wind screens that surround the courts.
“I think the key to this is really going to be corporate sponsorship,” Thomas said. “If we don’t get that this won’t happen.”
But not to be outdone by a cry for funds, the Wyoming Area tennis teams plans on a few fundraisers, including one last week. We’ve all seen golf tournaments at our local clubs, so one might think that’s a perfect idea. This is sort of that.
Rich’s Family Fun Center has offered to have a fundraising mini-golf tournament on their facilities. That event took place Saturday, Oct. 12 for $10 per person. All the proceeds went to try and offset the cost of the renovations. The team raised $400 from golfers, and another $100 from a bake sale.
Obviously, a mini-golf tournament will not raise some $200k. But it is a start.
The team will be reaching out to local business trying to gain some support. The school has already turned down the funding option, but that’s something Thomas understands.
The next step is a plan to pave the sidewalk area next to the courts on Boston Avenue and offer paved stones dedicated to local people or businesses for purchase. A space of 120 feet has been reserved for the memorial brick pavers.
Wyoming Area has also been in contact with the United States Tennis Association (USTA) about possible help in funding the project. Normally, the USTA only funds municipalities, but in this case it said it would be happy to help.
The USTA will put 20 percent toward the project up to $50k. Callaio pointed out that the USTA’s motto is, “Any time a court goes away, we failed.”
“The USTA has been really supportive,” Thomas said. “They are going to match the funding. When they found out about this they said, ‘We don’t want a tennis court to disappear.’”
The courts need everything, Callaio said, from lighting to fencing and nets. They have been there since the 1970s.
Wyoming Area plays in the Wyoming Valley Conference with teams like Berwick and Hazleton Area. So you can imagine the hardships to try and get to those schools twice in a season.
And this fall, the girls had their best season in school history under second-year coach Tiffany Callaio. The Warriors finished 7-6 prior to districts — the team’s only .500 record ever.
While playing their home matches in Hughestown, the Warriors got back to winning. But Callaio and Thomas agreed that it won’t be long until the courts on New Street need to be redone as well.
“The general public just sees all the animosity between the schools, but they really work together,” Thomas said. “I’d like to thank Pittston Area for allowing our kids use the courts We had to adjust our schedule but so what. The long and short of it is the tennis years weren’t interrupted.”