By Dustin Luca
---- — The new tennis courts at Andover High School are getting closer to their first match.
And a major donation is helping the project become a reality.
After years of glaring structural issues requiring repeated heavy maintenance, the seven regulation tennis courts in front of the high school are undergoing a complete overhaul. Town Meeting this spring approved the work — to the tune of $400,000.
The project is on target for an Oct. 18 completion, project architect Chris Huntress said.
Last week, workers at the site were installing the posts for the nets and the perimeter fence around the courts. Next, crews will add a final layer of asphalt and the playing surface — the courts themselves, Huntress said.
The surface will be modeled after the “blue on blue” courts seen at the Australian Open, according to Huntress.
The town has the Andover-based California Paints, a division of California Products, to thank for the surfacing material, valued at $25,000. The group donated the acrylic resin surface, which the company has been making since 1953, to the high school.
The California Products division moved from Cambridge to Andover in 2000.
Art Tucker, the division’s vice president of recreational products, said the branch wanted “to be a good part of the community.”
“The tennis courts were a wreck. We want to see them as a good example of what it ought to be,” Tucker said.
“The town coaches wanted a nice, medium-pace court so the kids can play a game and learn to practice all levels of play. That’s very important to us.”
Brian Frykenberg, a coordinator with Friends of Andover Tennis, said that the donation will give residents “courts they can be proud of.”
“The teams are excellent teams. There’s a lot of talent going down very deep in this town already,” he said. “They’ll be affected very positively.”
When Don Doucette, the school district’s athletic director, came on board in 2012, he said he felt the athletic facilities were all in great shape, with the exception of the tennis courts.
“They were a real eyesore,” he said. “We were patching them up and doing the best we could to hold both our boys and girls tennis matches here this past spring.”
Doucette is excited to see the improvements.
“We’re watching the process go on as they build them day by day,” he said.
While Doucette didn’t anticipate any major expansion to the town’s tennis programming, he said having seven operational courts available simultaneously does increase the opportunities that might become available, including the possibility for some camps.
While the courts will be finished this fall, they won’t be seeing active play until next spring.
The Friends of Andover Tennis is already lining up a full opening ceremony with an intergenerational focus to break in the courts, Frykenberg said.
It’s the kind of ceremony — “an event that brings together the school players and town players” — that the friends group hopes becomes an annual movement, he said.
“One thing that would be really good for the town is something to keep high school and varsity players in touch with younger players coming up,” Frykenberg said. “We have a robust group, and we hope to host an event like this every year.”
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