Springdale tennis squad savors long-awaited new courts
For nearly two decades, Springdale's tennis players practiced on less-than-pristine courts and went on the road — sometimes resulting in round trips of more than two hours — for all matches.
Before this week, the Dynamos played their last home match in 1993.
But Allegheny Valley School District and Cheswick Borough have served up a new era in tennis for the Dynamos and local recreational players by renovating the courts located off campus on McLean Avenue.
Now, the facility, just a short stroll from the Allegheny River, is one of the more picturesque in the Alle-Kiski Valley.
The school district spent $307,000 to build three new courts, which replaced two aging surfaces, as well as fencing, benches, tables and an electrical outlet to supply power for a ball machine.
Springdale's girls tennis team hosted its first Section 3-AA match Friday and was edged by Highlands, 3-2.
Beforehand, school district and borough officials hosted a ribbon-cutting ceremony.
“Having this for the community means more people will play and practice,” said junior Rebecca Kern, who plays No. 2 singles. “I think our teams will grow in the future because of it.”
This year, there are 12 players on Springdale's girls team, which started in 2007. Previously, girls played for the Dynamos' boys team in the spring. The small school has had a boys program since 1964.
The opening of Springdale's home court means the number of road trips for section matches were cut in half.
Teams play each of the other schools in their section twice.
“No more two trips to places such as West Shamokin and Indiana,” Springdale athletic director Ray Davis said. “At times, the girls were spending four of five days a week on the road. That's rough on them, considering their school work.”
Because the WPIAL realigns every two years, West Shamokin and Indiana aren't in the same section as Springdale this season.
But it's hard to tell which schools might be on the Dynamos' schedule and what travel could be involved in future years.
The addition of a third court was a major key in obtaining home dates for Springdale. Each team competition consists of three singles and two doubles matches. With only two courts, the last match probably wouldn't start until at least 6:30 p.m.
When the high school teams aren't practicing or playing, an additional court also gives recreational players a better chance to find an open spot.
“This benefits the school and residents in Cheswick,” Cheswick councilwoman Vickie Roolf said. “Before. if you hit the ball, you'd be lucky if it got across the net or it didn't go sideways.”
The previous courts were marred by noticeable rises and dips. The new courts, in addition to being flat and crack-free, feature more room between the baseline and surrounding fence.
Springdale girls tennis coach Bob Ochsenhirt recently walked by himself across the courts one morning while thinking about the people who had made the long-awaited renovations a reality and what the new facility means to local players.
“It sends chills through my body,” Ochsenhirt said.
Paul Kogut is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 724-224-2696.