For the moment at least, Carroll County High School’s tennis teams are homeless.
The tennis courts at Carroll County High School, where the Cavaliers and community members have played tennis for well over 20 years, were shut down March 18 prior to a scheduled boys’ tennis match with Galax High School because of large cracks throughout the courts. At that time, Carroll County Superintendent of Schools Dr. Strader Blankenship ordered the courts shut down until further notice.
“When Galax came they had concerns about kids being hurt. I agreed with them that the cracks were dangerous to play on, so I asked if they cared if we rescheduled,” Blankenship said. “The courts have really big cracks in them and we basically shut it down. I was afraid kids were going to get hurt stepping in them.”
In the meantime, Blankenship said he has asked Eddie Vaughn, the school system’s maintenance supervisor, to patch the cracks up so the tennis teams can finish the varsity season at home. The weather has delayed repairs, however, because patches can’t be done until it warms up, Blankenship said.
“And a patch isn’t going to do it for very long,” Blankenship said. “The tennis courts will have to have some major work.”
Until temporary patches can be completed, both tennis teams have to play all matches on the road. Making matters worse, there aren’t many options available for practice, either.
“The tennis teams can’t play or practice there. We are looking for a place for them to practice. Hopefully, if we can get warm weather, it won’t take but about a week,” Blankenship said. “I’ve asked them to check at a couple of places around for practice and there aren’t that many options. Olde Mill Golf Resort has tennis courts and there is maybe one other place. They can practice hitting indoors, but there is no net, so it is not a very lifelike practice.”
Tinsel Slate, head coach of Carroll’s girls’ tennis team, said the lack of a tennis court hasn’t been too much of a problem so far. The weather has been too cold for the team to practice outside most of this spring anyway, she said.
Angel Maggio, head coach of Carroll’s boys’ tennis team, said her team has just been doing a lot of running since March 18. She said the team tried to practice inside at Carroll County Intermediate School, but had to share the gym with softball and baseball teams. She said it seemed like the team spent most of its time dodging softballs and baseballs that day, so that option didn’t work too well, either.
“It’s been a challenge, but you do what you can do. We’ve been told we can practice at Olde Mill, but we’ve mostly just been running,” Maggio said. “We have a young team this year. We only had two returning players from last year so we had a lot of spots open. It was only our third day together when they closed off the tennis courts, so we’ve not had a lot of time to work together as a team.”
Blankenship said it’s not a good situation for the tennis teams or community members who also utilize the tennis courts for recreation. But safety always has to be the number one concern, he said.
“Not only the tennis teams, it’s also the community. I’ve asked them to close it off so that nobody can play. I don’t want anybody getting hurt,” Blankenship said. “Eddie Vaughn is looking into a long-term solution, and I don’t even know what that would be at this point. It’s probably going to take a good chunk of time and resources, we just don’t know yet. My understanding is the courts had a two-foot base underneath them when they built it and it’s just not holding up as well as we would like. We don’t know if they will have to be replaced or just repaired, but safety is the number one issue here.”