Tennis, anyone?After photographing the tennis courts in Red Wing city parks, I returned to the office and showed one of my colleagues a slideshow of the images.
By: Ryan Nilsson, The Republican Eagle
After photographing the tennis courts in Red Wing city parks, I returned to the office and showed one of my colleagues a slideshow of the images. He remarked that the courts looked like they belonged in the Bronx.
It was hard to argue with him. A chain-link fence serves as a net on one of the two courts at Featherstone Park; the other court is devoid of a net.
The tennis courts at the three city parks with courts - Featherstone, A.P. Anderson and Colvill - all boast deplorable surfaces: They are crisscrossed with weeds -- and ant hill-filled cracks.
They aren't playable. They aren't safe to play on. Randy Decker, the Red Wing boys and girls tennis assistant coach, joked that a player would need combat boots to traverse them.
The conditions are the result of the city's conscious decision to emphasize quality and not quantity in regards to its tennis courts. A couple years ago the city partnered with the school district to resurface the courts at Twin Bluff Middle School.
The rationale for the project made sense: The Wingers junior varsity teams needed a location to hold meets and the courts were well-used by the public.
However, with usable tennis courts only at the high school and middle school, it's not convenient for a number of Red Wing residents -- especially those who make their home on the west side -- to play the game.
When courts aren't within walking distance or reasonable biking distance, it's easy to fathom that such an obstacle stunts the sport's participation numbers.
While that is not advantageous for the Wingers, the issue is much bigger than the health of the high school teams.
You don't have to be a past, present or future prep star to enjoy the game and its benefits. Tennis is a lifetime sport. No matter your age, you can play. There are a number of sports you can't say that about.
Activities like tennis that promote a healthy, active lifestyle and are sustainable should be encouraged.
The city had plans to resurface the tennis court at A.P. Anderson Park. However, budgetary issues forced that project to be placed on hold, according to Red Wing cemetery and parks superintendent Bill Rooney.
"It's not gonna be done this year because of money, but A.P. Anderson would be a tennis court situation that is gonna be fixed," Rooney said.
In the current economic climate it's unrealistic to expect the courts at the other two city parks to be refurbished any time soon. However, a revitalized economy by itself wouldn't jumpstart the work.
For a court to be resurfaced or a playground to be constructed, it helps to have what Decker called "critical mass." Constituents need to make the city aware of the need.
"We had a number of parents who were willing to go to the School Board and speak," Decker said of the effort to improve the middle school courts.
The funding method for the middle school resurfacing project also could serve as a model for future court improvements. It came to fruition because of a group effort: In addition to the contributions of the city and the school district, the United States Tennis Association Northern Section provided grant money. Private fundraising was conducted too.
Even though any work appears to be a long ways off, that doesn't mean the planning to make improvements to the courts at Colvill and Featherstone parks can't begin now.