Prep tennis: Negaunee High School looking into constructing new courts

NEGAUNEE – Kyle Saari says the current tennis courts his boys and girls tennis teams use are in need of repair.

“They’re playable, but the last few years, they’ve developed cracks and the surfaces are peeling,” the veteran Negaunee High School coach said Wednesday.

Saari would like to see some new courts built to bolster his tennis program, but also for community residents to enjoy.

He might get his wish.

The Negaunee Board of Education has approved a $20,140 expenditure for an engineering study by Integrated Designs Inc. to determine the feasibility of new court construction near the Negaunee High School pool.

Superintendent Jim Derocher said Wednesday the eight-court site would be at the north end of the lower parking lot at the school.

NHS tennis courts are currently located at Arch Street, Teal Lake Avenue and at the Lakeview Elementary School.

“The last time the courts were resurfaced 10-12 years ago, we were told the cracks were so large, we’d also have to replace the underlying cement foundation,” Derocher said.

“We think it may be more cost effective to move the courts to one central location. We’re doing the study to help the board decide whether to do that.”

Derocher, president of the Michigan High School Athletic Association’s Representative Council, said he’d like to see the study completed in 2-3 months in order to begin the “earth-moving process” this fall if the project is approved.

“Then, next summer, the cement could be laid,” he said. “Then, the (new) courts could be used by the girls’ fall season in 2014.”

Derocher said not only would the new courts improve the facilities for tennis for all residents in Negaunee, but may bring the MHSAA Upper Peninsula Division 1 Finals competition to NHS.

“We’d look at (hosting) the U.P. Finals on a rotational basis with Kingsford and Marquette,” he said.

“This (project) is something I’ve been looking at for some time. We need to resurface our courts and it makes more sense to move them all to one location.”

Saari added the new courts would be a benefit for several reasons.

“We’d have a more durable surface since they would be built on more level ground and there wouldn’t be any drainage issues,” he said.

“It would also reduce liability issues in shuttling kids to courts (like we do now).”

In addition, he said, it might open more opportunities to hold summer tennis camps and tournaments.

“We can’t say enough about the support the board, Jim and the community have given our program,” said Saari, who has coached the NHS boys’ varsity tennis team for seven seasons and the girls’ for six.

“This would not only be a school project, but a community project, as well.

“We hope the new courts would be one of the best tennis facilities in the U.P.,” he added. “It’s something we’ve been hoping for the last few years and we’re extremely excited.”

Craig Remsburg can be reached at 906-228-2500, ext. 251.