When LeeAnn James (then known as LeeAnn Lundy) first joined the Morris Community High School girls tennis team, home meets were spread out among several locations.
Some matches would be contested in the MCHS teachers’ parking lot, James says. Others would play at Goold Park or McKinley Park. MCHS did not build tennis courts at its current location until James, a 1979 graduate, was a junior.
“It was like heaven,” James said of the courts’ initial construction.
Over time, those courts aged. MCHS Athletic Director George Dergo says puddling would be a problem when it rained. The surface was not nearly as smooth as those at many other high schools, which arguably put MCHS players at a competitive disadvantage since they practiced and often played on conditions different from those they encountered during the state series.
This summer, the courts were replaced. Evans & Son Blacktop handled the resurfacing. The color is different, and gates have been added in the back of the courts to accompany those in the front. The cost of the project was $103,837.
According to MCHS building and grounds director Steve Lutz, the courts were resurfaced once, 16 years ago, after their original installation in the late 1970s.
“The tennis court resurfacing was on our capital projects list. Dr. (Pat) Halloran, Mr. Dergo and myself decided it would be a good project to present to the board for this summer,” Lutz said in an email. “As with all building and grounds projects, I coordinate the project through the superintendent, architect and the contractor, and try and make sure the project stays on track. Evans & Son Blacktop did have to deal with the weather —rain — but did finish on schedule.”
James is part of a group of about 20 women who regularly play on the MCHS courts. They were forced to play in places like Coal City and Channahon this summer while the project was being completed, but the results have been worth it.
“It turned out great,” James said. “The gates in back and the new benches are really nice things to go with it.”
MCHS junior Leah Lines, a member of the school’s varsity girls team, says she has been “playing a lot” on the courts since they opened.
“They’re super nice. They’re one of the nicest courts I’ve ever played on,” Lines said. “Usually, when we went to DeKalb or Rochelle, those were always the nicest in the (Northern Illinois Big 12 East) conference. These ones are right up with those. They’re really top notch. I’m so excited about them.”
Lines and her doubles partner, Monica Davy, qualified for the girls state final tournament in 2012, but MCHS has not had a boys state qualifier since the doubles tandem of Brendan Haas and Jake Kluch advanced in 2002. Dergo hopes that the improved facilities can help change that.
“It’s a faster surface, something close to what our kids will play on in the state series,” Dergo said. “That’s a big thing. We always want to give our kids the best opportunity we can to succeed, and that really helps.”
The courts will first be officially used on Aug. 29 when the MCHS girls tennis team opens its season against Coal City.