Share the Love: the Campaign for New Tennis Courts Underway
For the past two years, tennis athletes at The Woodstock Academy have had to play their home matches away from home. The boys and girls tennis teams have utilized 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 often cut very short. 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 has plans to improve this in the near future for the NextGen of Centaurs.
“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 for advancement Jon Sturdevant.
The game plan is to utilize space on South Campus where a grass soccer field now resides between the turf field and the gym to build new courts, with the cost estimated to be about one million dollars. The effort to raise awareness and funds will begin on September 28 at Loos Center for the Arts at 6:00 p.m. with a kickoff event.
“We’re going to provide some light food and beverages. There will be a brief presentation in the theater 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, 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 email@example.com.
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 of drainage issues and the locker rooms for the South Campus gym would be easily accessible. The Academy's boarding students, who reside on South Campus, would also have easy access to the courts. In addition, 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.”
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.
“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.
The Woodstock Academy is an independent, day and boarding, co-educational, college preparatory high school for grades 9–12 and postgraduates located in Woodstock, CT. The mission of The Woodstock Academy is to prepare all students by providing diverse opportunities through a rigorous curriculum and a variety of programs in order to cultivate the necessary skills to become lifelong learners and global citizens.