A Tennis Court
Updated: Aug 6, 2019
We built our tennis court at the house in the late 70's or early 80's at our house at the top of Vine Street in St. Albans, WV.
Our house we built in the early 70's was on two acres that sits back in the woods and connects to the City Park.
Weeks of digging, smoothing it out the bulldozer laid the foundation, we worked bringing wheelbarrow after wheelbarrow of gravel down the hill, then laying the steel mesh that would hold together the concrete that was poured for the court framed in by the boards around the court.
We filled in pea gravel around three sides of the court and the other side, was the bank we would walk down from the house to get to the court.
We hired a friend to install the fence after preparing the edge of the hillside that would eventually be a graveyard of tennis balls that went way over the hill and into the woods, although many times we would go in between games and go over the hill to find the ball that one of us hit over the fence.
We left the concrete it's natural color and carefully painted the green lines and net posts, anxiously installing the net across the court.
Jerry, my dad and I took up the game of tennis couple years earlier, got into it so much that we drove to Cincinnati in 1981 to see The Davis Cup tie with USA hosting Argentina in one of the most memorable Davis Cup events in history.
One tennis court that if it could talk would tell stories of our family playing about every weekend and many evenings after work. Stories of Sunday's with our family and friends - uncle Butch and aunt Penny, their kids coming up to play on the court.
A great addition to the court would be the lights added after the first year of play. That addition led to many nights on the court as I would one home from work and me and Jerry would play for a couple hours. It's tough to beat your dad mentally sometimes but I finally succeeded a couple times.
The tennis court is the home and training ground to my younger brother and sister playing the game as Jerry taught ground strokes and serving to Jason and Kara.
The court would tell you if it could talk, about Jason and Kara learning the foundation of tennis and growing up, learning the value of hard work, focus, sportsmanship, how to handle yourself with adults, how to learn from those better than you and how to gain confidence on the court that leads to confidence and positive thinking off the court.
Kara and Jason's friends would spend many evenings and weekends on the tennis court instead of out running around and partying with other kids, their parties were tennis and pizza parties on the court that resulted in many of their friends learning tennis and playing on the junior high and senior high tennis teams with them.
Kara was an excellent tennis player in school and Jason made it to the West Virginia high school tournament is singles and doubles and becoming the 1991 Class AAA State Champion in doubles for his high school.
This tennis court that led to the love of tennis were I sit writing this today, stayed with me even when I moved to Charlotte, NC in 1987. I continued to play tennis and in about 1990 started the Lake Norman Tennis Association with a first meeting of eight people showing up for that first meeting at Woody's Restaurant at exit 28 Cornelius.
A couple years earlier I started attending the Family Circle Cup Ladies Tennis Tournament in Hilton Head, SC. I had media passes each year and was fortunate to meet the best women tennis players in the world. My family came to the tournament a couple years and that created many lifetime memories and friendships.
The Family Circle Cup tournament became an annual outing for Jerry and his tennis friends in West Virginia to attend the event until it was moved to another location.
The Lake Norman Tennis Association was a labor of love building for me as I hosted monthly meetings with local tennis pros coming to talk to the group, including Dr. Dirt as he was called, tennis pro Tim Wilkinson spoke at a couple of our meetings with tales of tournaments in the pro circuit, stories of hitting practice with Jimmy Connors and other tennis pros around the world.
Jetton Park on Lake Norman opened in about the spring of 1990, which was the catalyst for the Lake Norman Tennis Association to really increase numbers of players. Every Saturday morning if it was not snowing or raining, we would be scattered on those right new courts and most nights through the week our members would be playing under the lights.
It was trial and error learning and building our leagues. I sent out a monthly newsletter announcing the next meeting at Wendell's Cafe, when the next leagues would start and other activities such as a couple tennis clinics with local tennis pros.
I turned LNTA over to other great people as I started doing other things on Saturday mornings in the mid 90's and LNTA continues, often the best tennis association in North Carolina, several state champions and thousands of friends made over the years.
Now back to The a Tennis Court for the next generation.
This week, my brother's daughter, Lindsay was awarded a full ride tennis scholarship to West Virginia State University. Lindsay started playing on this tennis court probably 15 years ago with Jason and Jerry teaching her tennis skills. Lindsay won the West Virginia State Doubles Championship her senior year at Hurricane High School - just as her dad Jason did in 1991 for St. Albans high School.
She has been very successful through her years and tournaments, going to the WV State tournament semi and finals each year of her high school career.
Megan, Lindsay's sister played tennis on the Hurricane Middle School team this fall as a 6th grader and went undefeated in singles and doubles. Her team won the conference championship and the college coach is already keeping an eye on her!
I sit on the bench beside the court and reflect through the years smiling and thankful for Jerry and I hitting that tennis ball back in the 70's learning together, building our house and tennis court.
Yea it's just a tennis court with thousands of footsteps, thousands of forehands, backhands, serves, lobs, "Good Shot", tennis balls, lots of racquets - thin ones, wide ones and various brands, balls over and into the net just on This court.
This tennis court was the foundation to 1,000+ friends being made over the years and whatever the friends did on and off the court together. I know of a marriage or two on Lake Norman through the LNTA members and many trips to see the pros, as my family goes to the Cincinnati pro tournament each August along with family playing in tournaments I the Tri-state area of WV.
Jerry is in his 60's and plays 2 or 3 times a week which is great for his health.
I served in a tennis committee in Nashville for a tournament for a couple years and made friends.
I threaten to pickup the racquet after 20+ years as I needs new one- the last one I owned was the Prince from about 1991 the thin black one with the green stripe. I still also have my Prince " Woodie" model from the 80's with many memories on that one too and am very thankful for the game of tennis and This Tennis Court.