Court conditions at the Blackburn Tennis Center appear to be improving.
At least 10 courts have been resurfaced recently and the management company that operates the tennis center in Blackburn Park says it will have the final two courts resurfaced soon.
Stewart Russell, a partner with Universal Tennis Academy/Management and director of the Blackburn facility, thinks it’s been about 13 years since the courts last were resurfaced. “That’s much longer than the average life expectancy of a hard court’s surface,” he said.
Players welcomed the changes.
“We’ve all tolerated the unevenness on the courts for a while, so now it’s going to be a better place to play,” said Grady Evans of Sandy Springs, who has played in weekday round-robin competitions at Blackburn for years.
B.B. Johnson of Brookhaven has played at Blackburn for over three decades. “We’re thrilled to have the courts done and also happy they decided to do only two at a time and not interfere with play,” she said.
Universal Tennis Academy/Management has managed the 18-court facility since 2011. It rents the facility from DeKalb County, which owns the park until the city of Brookhaven takes control.
Last fall, the six upper courts were resurfaced, but Russell did not see any chance of the remaining 12 being resurfaced. As of March 15, however, more money became available for repairs when Universal Tennis entered into a new portion of its three-year contract with DeKalb, Universal Tennis officials said.
David Stolle, another partner in Universal Tennis, said $20,000 a year has been allocated for capital improvements at Blackburn Tennis Center.
“That’s hardly enough to resurface all the courts, but it’s important to us to make this happen,” Stolle said. “This is, frankly, a safety issue, not just a playability one, so we’re paying more than what’s required by the county by several thousand dollars.”
Russell said all the courts will have the same surface style and color scheme as the courts used for the U.S. Open tennis tournament. “We’re trying to create that “wow” effect,” Stolle said. “That’s something Blackburn has needed.”
Blackburn management also has added new fences to the grounds.
Next on the to-do list: Russell noted that the Blackburn clubhouse needs a new roof, water heaters and an overhaul of the restrooms.
“But the bottom line is we have such a high activity level on the courts that we had to make those the priority,” he said. “Everyone understands there are other needs, but the county has not explained what they intend to do about the clubhouse.”
Andy Ho of Dunwoody, who has played on Blackburn teams for three years, looks forward to more improvements. “The courts look great, but the bathrooms are bad,” he said. “The clubhouse is a little outdated.”
But Stolle is pleased with the work. “We’re excited to get it done and so is everyone else,” he said.