Carlos Jimenez (left) and Carlos Holquin of Midwest Track and Tennis of Denison use a T-square ruler for precise painting of lines on the asphalt surface. Daily Times Herald photo by Larry Devine
Carlos Jimenez (left) and Carlos Holquin of Midwest Track and Tennis of Denison use a T-square ruler for precise painting of lines on the asphalt surface. Daily Times Herald photo by Larry Devine
Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Game, set, match. Completion of a six-court tennis complex at Graham Park is a triumph for the game’s enthusiasts.

Lines have been painted, and nets will go up for the first time this week at the new six-court, outdoor complex on the north side of Graham Park.

The courts are getting their first workout this week and then will be the site of the annual Carroll Tennis Open Saturday and Sunday. That tournament usually is played in mid-summer but was moved back, awaiting completion of the new courts.

Carroll Parks and Recreation director Jack Wardell said in an interview last week that the courts are high-quality, enhance aesthetics in the park, and add to a remarkable layout of sports and recreation facilities in the center of the city.

“These are top-of-the-line courts,” Wardell comments. “Everything about them was done high-quality.”

The asphalt surfaces are painted a combination of greens — dark (called Florida) green on the courts bordered by standard turf green. Stripes for regulation singles and doubles play — side lines, service courts and alley lines — are white. The chain-link fence around the courts is coated black.

“It fits right nice on the north side of Graham Park,” Wardell says.

“It fits into the area with the aquatic center, the football and baseball stadiums and skate park,” Wardell adds.

Badding Construction of Carroll was contractor for the project, and JEO Consulting Group did the engineering. Midwest Track and Tennis of Denison painted the courts.

The complex includes four courts on the far north, adjoined by two more courts southwest of them, leaving open space to the east where a storage shed for tennis equipment will be added.

Four courts have been additionally striped for 10-and-under kids’ play and two for 8-and-under. Those courts are smaller than the regulation 36-by-78-foot courts. Players 10 and under use a softer ball, and 8-and-under players use a foam ball and smaller net. The portable smaller nets will be used for clinics and lessons and will be available for use by request to the Recreation Center.

Matt Greteman, who coordinates the local high schools’ tennis programs and is the boys’ head coach, spearheaded the tennis-complex project, presenting the proposal to the Carroll City Council.

He’s gratified to see the work come to fruition and says the project will be a game-changer both for the high schools’ tennis program and recreational play.

“It’s been a long process,” he says. He initiated the proposal about eight years ago.

“They (the courts) will be good for bringing people to town,” he said in an interview last week. “They’ll be good for kids. They’ll be good for development of the sport with younger kids through the Rec Center. There are a lot of good things about it.”

Greteman says he believes there will be an increase in recreation play. He notes there are adults’ doubles leagues, and he expects those programs to grow.

Carroll and Kuemper high school students compete in a shared program under the Kuemper name. Greteman is boys’ coach, Dean Kollasch is girls’ coach, and Greteman works with Kollasch in coordinating both programs.

The boys usually draw about 20 players each year and the girls 25, according to Greteman.

Carroll will host the Hawkeye 10 Conference Girls Tournament next spring and the conference boys’ tournament in 2014, and with the new courts, Greteman says he now will pursue possibility of hosting a district tournament.

With enrollment of the two high schools combined, Kuemper plays in Class 2A in tennis, the larger of the two competition classes.

While rural Iowa communities don’t have the advantage of the indoor-tennis facilities that are available in large cities, Greteman says, Carroll’s new courts will boost interest and accelerate players’ development.

“We’ll have both boys and girls on courts at the same time, working together, working on drills and making them better,” Greteman says.

Greteman comments on the new courts: “They look good. Scott Parcher (Parks and Recreation parks superintendent) did a good job of seeding the site. Badding did a good job putting it in there and getting it finished.”

Matt Greteman’s sons Peter and Nathan, both tennis players at the University of Nebraska at Omaha, gave one of the courts the inaugural try after the first net was put up Monday afternoon.

“It’s nice to have these really nice courts all in one spot,” Peter commented. “Not a lot of towns our size have a facility like this.”

He raved about the surface.

“Here you’ll get a clean bounce every single time,” he said.

Peter said he believes the courts can make a big difference both in the high school programs and the general public’s recreation enjoyment.

“I hope it builds more interest especially for the high school teams,” he said. “because now they can host conference tournaments and they can practice all at one facility. They don’t have to travel around town for practices. And, hopefully, more people in town will get out and start hitting just recreationally.”

 Peter is a 2008 Kuemper graduate and Nathan a 2011 Kuemper grad, and both played in state high school tennis tournaments. Peter is a senior at UNO majoring in accounting and Nathan a sophomore who hasn’t decided on a major.

Wardell and Matt Greteman say the asphalt courts should be good for 15 to 20 years before needing a new overlay.

Revenue for the project totals $702,527, including $528,000 from the city, $63,000 from Carroll Community School District, $30,000 from Kuemper Catholic Schools, $48,000 from the U.S. Tennis Association, $10,000 from Kuyper Foundation and $23,527 in local fundraising support.

This weekend’s Carroll Tennis Open will offer singles, doubles and mixed-doubles play, with doubles beginning at 9 a.m. Saturday, mixed doubles at 1 p.m. Saturday and singles at 10 a.m. Sunday. The tournament generally has drawn players high-school and college-age players as well as adults. Anybody interested in playing can sign up at the events.