As the fall semester comes to an end, most students probably did not realize the short notice in the MC Today on the new status of the college’s tennis courts. In a short message, Vandy Kemp, Vice President and Dean of Students, announced that the courts would now be restricted from public use.
Access to the courts is now only allowed by the Maryville College tennis team. Recent vandalism was cited as the reason for the new restrictions.
According to Dean Vandy Kemp, head coach Deidra Dunn and Athletic Director Kandis Schram, misuse of the courts such as students playing soccer and skateboarding on the facility has caused significant damage.
The tennis courts were redone at the expense of the college in the spring of 2014 and are still new. However, Coach Dunn and players on the tennis team have stated that this may not appear so when you view the damage on the court.
Scuffs and lines from skateboards are visible when you walk onto the courts as well as broken nets from students and locals kicking soccer balls into the nets. Dean Kemp stated that Schram came to her concerned about the misuse of the courts and showed her signs of scuffing and misuse.
“It didn’t surprise me that we had to secure the courts,” said Kemp. “The courts are an athletic facility and we had to ask people to stay off due to the damage.”
The courts have been a financial investment for the college as well. The college spent just under $30,000 resurfacing the courts and plans to replace damaged nets from recent misuse according to Schram.
However, this wasn’t the first time the college has restricted the courts to public use. The courts were locked shortly after they were resurfaced due to damage from people in the community. Tape was found on the courts that had been left for a few days causing damage to the new paint.
Both Schram and Dunn expressed their sympathy for the opinions of the MC community but also continue to hold a strong stance on their decision.
“It is an unfortunate situation; however, due to misuse of the courts there was no other choice,” said Dunn. “By having the courts locked, we are assured there will be no skateboards, bicycles, soccer balls etc. on the courts, which damage the court surface and nets.”
Players of the MC tennis team feel strongly about the decision to restrict the courts to the community as well.
“It needed to be done. It’s unfair for us as a college team to go to practice and our new courts be vandalized,” said freshman Savannah Bain.
Junior Tessa Wilcox also expressed that Sandy Springs Park has courts just five minutes down the road that members of the community can use as an alternative option.
However, several members of the MC and the surrounding area feel that measures taken to secure the courts have been quite drastic and send the wrong message to the community.
Kim Trevathan, Associate Professor of Writing/Communication, has been playing on the tennis courts since he began working at the college fifteen years ago. He, along with many other alumni, use the tennis courts on a regular basis to play tennis and were shocked to hear the news.
“I understand the concerns about the courts but it seems like there could be a less drastic remedy,” said Trevathan. “It is important for tuition paying students to have the courts available as we put a lot of emphasis on wellness here on campus.”
Trevathan also expressed concerned about sending the wrong message to the community as well as prospective students and faculty. He said that serious players respect the courts and often ask those who misuse the courts to leave. Trevathan also believes it is important to promote the game within the community.
“Locking the courts sends an opposite message about promoting the game,” said Trevathan.
“I grew up in Murray, KY where Coach Bennie Purcell of D1 Murray State always kept the courts open to the public. The Purcells were huge promoters of the game, and the courts there have always been available since I was a kid.”
The MC athletic department and administration have all taken consideration of the community’s concerns. Schram stated that although the courts will remain locked, students and faculty can come to the athletics office in Cooper to check out a key and properly use the courts.