Journal Express, Knoxville, IA

April 3, 2014

Surface of tennis courts to be discussed

Steve Woodhouse

Knoxville — The surfaces of the tennis courts at Young's Park in Knoxville are nearing the end of the typical 5-7 year life cycle. Effects from this past brutal winter have really brought out their age.

The courts were last surfaced in 2007 by the Knoxville School District. Young's Park was transferred to the City of Knoxville decades ago. In 2007, after some discussion among the Knoxville School Board and City Council, the CIty and school district entered into a new agreement, valid through June 1, 2017.

Per the agreement, the City is responsible for the electric bill, parking lot and structures. Within the past three years, one of the lights at the courts was blown over and replaced by the City. As for the surface of the courts, and the nets, responsibility for those lies with the school district. 

'The tennis courts was discussed in the fall," Knoxville Schools Superintendent Randy Flack said. "At that time, we filled the seams between the courts in order to reduce the potential for injuries.  (That was done after contacting a contractor who specializes in tennis court surfaces.)  At the fall meeting, it was determined that we would gather information about complete resurfacing and repair, this spring.  I have already contacted the owner of the company who resurfaced the courts in 2007." 

Knoxville City Manager Harold Stewart said that the school district and City each carry liability insurance for the courts. He added that there has been previous discussion about the courts, in regard to drainage issues around the courts. The City has tried to alleviate some of these problems in the past. 

"They need to be resurfaced," Joel Tonda, retired longtime Knoxville tennis coach. The courts are named in his honor. Typically, tennis courts are resurfaced every five to seven years. He said the current condition of the courts do present a danger and a liability factor. Speaking as a citizen, player and former coach, he does not want to put anyone at risk. 

The Knoxville High School tennis teams use the courts for home meets. While the school board intends to discuss resurfacing the courts at its April 28 meeting, the courts will not be resurfaced before the 2014 tennis season. 

Tonda added that as a tennis court's surface gets older, it can deteriorate more quickly. In his final season as coach, 2012, he thought the surface of the courts looked great. While coming to the courts to play in 2013-14, he said he was "shocked" when he saw the condition the courts are in. He attributes the poor appearance this spring to Knoxville's winter. 

The South Central Conference also played its conference tournament in Knoxville. Due to rain, a machine was used to dry the surfaces. Tonda said he could see some of the surface coming up as the drying was taking place. 

Tonda believes that the school board is not really at fault for the courts' appearance this season. They could not do anything about the weather. He is still pleased with the board for taking the initiative to resurface them seven years ago.

"I really appreciate the school taking responsibility for the surface," Tonda said. He added that he believes the City should have set more money aside for the courts, as they are in a City park. Prior to the school district's actions, Tonda added that the courts had not been resurfaced since the 1990s. 

Overall, he believes that all aspects of a city park are interpreted as a reflection upon the community. In the years after the school district resurfaced the courts, Tonda said many out-of-town competitors and guests were impressed with the courts' appearance and spoke highly of Knoxville.  

Comment was sought from the two current KHS varsity coaches. The only response received on behalf of the school district was from Flack.