PORT McNEILL — October may not cry out “tennis!”, but when Port McNeill’s players are up for a game, the town’s courts will be ready.
A group of volunteers, loosely affiliated as the Port McNeill Tennis Club, completed a nearly six-month project to clean and resurface damaged portions of the courts, located behind North Island Secondary School.
“We’ve got a pretty good start on next spring,” said David Mitchell, who helped spearhead the effort. “We’ll be back out when the weather turns again to do some more sprucing up.”
The project arose from a chat among tennis enthusiast last November, who lamented the decrepit state of the courts on the school grounds.
Grass and weeds had sprouted through several sections of the surface and in other spots the surface had simply eroded away or settled to create dips and valleys. Debris littered the two-court facility and blackberry brambles snaked from the adjacent hillside through the surrounding chain-link fence and across the courts.
The group, motivated by Shane Field of the active Sointula Tennis Club, approached School District 85 treasurer John Martin and the Town of Port McNeill to drum up support for resurfacing and repairing the courts.
They received an enthusiastic response, but the $60,000 estimate to completely resurface both courts was prohibitive.
“Shortly after New Year’s we got a quote to fill the holes where there were major dips and such,” said Mitchell. “John didn’t even blink; he said, ‘We’ll do that.'”
In early summer, OK Paving in Port McNeill resurfaced the damaged portions of the courts with asphalt. With their own fund-raising efforts, the tennis club members raised money to paint the new surface green and add lines where they had been eliminated.
The effort was knocked off schedule, Mitchell said, by the rainy early summer, volunteers’ vacation schedules and a delay in getting the paint delivered. Then, the group discovered it needed more paint that was originally ordered.
“In September, Shane came to me and said, ‘We need to finish this; we’re so close,'” he said. “We sent out a message to everybody, and we finally did it.”
Members who contributed money, labour or both include Shelley Downey, Greg Fox, Nicole Yorke, Dave Hamilton, Jordan Altmiks, John Bramham, Dr. Rick Scragg and Penny Mills, Kelly Kennedy, Fern Duperrault, John Dickie, Mitchell and Field.
The courts are not pristine. The bright green of the new paint contrasts with the faded, original surface, and rust speckles the net posts.
But the nets are hung and the courts are ready for anyone who wants to try a little cool-weather tennis or look forward to playing a set next spring.