John Ohrlund, Skokie Park District executive director, and three of his tennis buddies christened the new and improved outdoor Skokie Park Tennis Center (SPTC) on Sunday, playing a doubles set on the brand new court surface. The center also features tight, bright new nets and a sparkling new boundary fence.
"I couldn't wait to try out the district's biggest and best tennis facility after its renovation," said Ohrlund, who at 58 still plays a mean game of competitive tennis.
SPTC is located just south of the corner of Main Street and Niles Center Road, adjacent to Madison School. After grinding off the courts' top two inches, a new asphalt surface was laid, followed by two coats of sand emulsion, topped off with two coats of green and red color coating.
"The facility is really beautiful," said Mike Rea, superintendent of parks. "We expect the new surface to last for many years, with the new boundary fence, net posts and nets, making the player's tennis experience a great one for both beginners and accomplished players."
According to Bob DeLeonardis, district athletic director, two of the eight lighted courts are utilized for lessons and camps, with the other six almost always open for public play, with no reservations required. Two courts are also striped to accommodate a potential kids' Quick Start program, classes for children utilizing modified balls, racquets and courts.
"We are excited to have our flagship tennis facility back in action," DeLeonardis said. "The majority of our classes and camps are held there and we believe that Skokie tennis students — and drop in players — will be very pleased with their experience at the new center (SPTC)."
Prior to the foursome's trip to SPTC, they played two sets at Central Park's four court facility, in order to compare surfaces.
According to Rea, Central and Terminal Parks' tennis courts were redone in 2012, with a Nova'Pro Xtreme surface.
"The economical floating synthetic surface at those two parks, which lies under the four layers of sand and color coating, covers minor cracks completely, allowing at least a 25-year surface life," said Rea.
He also said that the more cushioned surfaces make for an almost imperceptible variance in ball bounce and a lower impact on a player's body. Rea said that the surface will become firmer every year.
Ohrlund and his friends concurred with Rea's description of the softer surface.
"It is comfortable and only slightly slower than our other hard courts," Ohrlund said. "Both surfaces play very nicely. While the Central and Terminal Park surfaces will likely last longer and offer slightly slower ball speeds, the new surfaces of the SPTC courts are also top notch — built to the same specifications as hard courts used on the pro tour."
For Skokie Park District tennis lesson information, please call (847) 674-1500 or visit SkokieParks.org. Public play at Skokie Park Tennis Center is on a first-come, first-serve basis; and again, no reservations are required.