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Campaign for new tennis courts at Woodstock Academy gets underway

For the past two years, tennis athletes at Woodstock Academy have had to play their home matches away from home.

The boys and girls tennis teams have had to utilize the Pomfret School, Rectory School and Killingly High School courts to practice and play their matches.

Pomfret School was a gracious host last spring but it wasn’t easy for tennis athletes who had to work around the host team’s schedule..

“Practice times were cut very short often. With the home courts, we could practice on our schedules, not on Pomfret’s. No one came and watched our matches. We didn’t have a lot of support,” said Centaurs senior Peyton Bentley.

The Woodstock Academy is hoping that will change in the near future.

“The courts we have currently at the Bentley Athletic Complex are just not playable. They are in a place where drainage issues, even if we were to correct them there, would make them unplayable again in the future. It’s just a bad place for them. We’re unable to have a tennis program on our home turf without building new ones,” said associate head of school Jon Sturdevant.

The game plan is to utilize space on the South Campus where a grass soccer field now resides between the South Campus turf field and the South Campus gym to build new courts.

The cost is estimated to be about a million dollars.

The effort to raise that money will begin on Sept. 28 in the Loos Center on South Campus at 6 p.m. with a kickoff event.

“We’re going to provide some light food and beverages. There will be a brief presentation in the theatre with an overview of the plan, the fundraising so far and the plan for future fundraising. It will be a general overview of the project to engage our community,” Sturdevant said.

Sturdevant said that most of the former Woodstock Academy tennis players, with whom the school has on record, have been sent invites but it is an open invitation to attend.

Those who wish to attend are asked to email an RSVP to Sarah Andrews at

It’s something that Woodstock Academy athletic director Sean Saucier hopes will move quickly.

“It’s been a significant need for many years now,” Saucier said. “Trying to run a program without a facility has its own challenges. Luckily, we’ve had some great community partners at Rectory, Pomfret and Killingly who have come through for us to help in this time of need. To have courts on South Campus would be a tremendous asset.”

There is a lot of upside to the project.

The current plan is to build at least four courts but there is enough room in the area to expand that number.

According to Sturdevant, the ideal number would be six if the funds are available to do so.

The grass soccer field has not had much in the way drainage issues.

The locker rooms for the South Campus gym would be easily accessible.

The athletic training services are much easier to provide on campus.

And new courts may equal more athletes.

“If you build it, they will come,” Saucier said with a smile. “We want to get these in place and give our programs a nice shot in the arm.”

And Bentley feels that the courts will be well utilized.

“Tennis is a sport that people play their whole lives. I started when I was in elementary school. It’s a sport that people stick with. It’s not like we’re going to have the courts and then they will be abandoned. Everybody is going to want to play,” the senior said.

There is another group that will benefit from the new facilities.

The residential students would have easy access to the courts.

“Tennis courts are also an important part of a residential campus. This is the first priority of a multi-phase project for athletics on South Campus,”,” Sturdevant said.

The current courts at the Bentley Athletic Complex will be leveled to allow for more parking at the facility which is also a critical need.