Tennis court repairs on track

The+initial+stage+of+repairing+Darling+Courts+begins+on+April+9%2C+as+the+men%27s+and+women%27s+tennis+teams+were+forced+to+play+most+of+their+home+matches+at+Charleston+High+School.+The+repairs+will+cost+Eastern+%24224%2C350%2C+with+the+scheduled+complete+date+of+June+30+still+expected+by+Ne-Co+Asphalt.

Jason Howell | The Daily Eastern News

The initial stage of repairing Darling Courts begins on April 9, as the men's and women's tennis teams were forced to play most of their home matches at Charleston High School. The repairs will cost Eastern $224,350, with the scheduled complete date of June 30 still expected by Ne-Co Asphalt.

Aldo Soto, Sports Editor

Eastern’s Darling Courts, where the school’s men’s and women’s tennis teams call home, are less than a month away from being repaired after the nearly quarter-million dollar project began in early April.

According to the contract between Eastern and Charleston’s Ne-Co Asphalt, the $224,350-project is scheduled to be finished June 30.

Darling Courts were built in the late 90s, featuring six tennis courts. In 2005, the courts were entirely resurfaced, the same year that John Blackburn was hired as the tennis teams’ coach.

Blackburn, who is now the director of tennis at Eastern, said he first noticed cracks on the surface of the courts in 2006. Since then, Eastern has repaired those cracks several times, but the small openings in the courts are normal, Blackburn said.

“It is very normal for small cracks to begin to appear within six months of a resurfacing project,” he said. “The reason for these repairs are cracks in the court surface typical for the age of the court surface that need to be alleviated.”

John Robinson, who is the project manager for the courts’ repairs, is optimistic that the restorations would be completed by the end of June.

“Everything on the EIU tennis court project has gone well, considering the wet weather that we have had all through May and now June,” Robinson said.

Charleston has received 5.17 inches of rain from May 1 through Wednesday, which included 3.1 inches in May.

The Eastern women’s tennis season started Jan. 24, while the men began Jan.25, but their first home matches were not until March. Both squads had to play all but one of their home matches at Charleston High School, as the repairs to Darling Courts began in April.

The women’s team played in Terre Haute, Ind., to open up Ohio Valley Conference play on March 23. The men’s team had one of their matches moved from the Charleston High School courts to the Atkins Tennis Center in Champaign in April.

The Panthers went all season without playing on their home courts, but it made no difference, as the men’s team finished 2-3 at “home” which is the same home record it had in 2013.

The Eastern women went from a 4-2 record at Darling Courts last year, to 5-2 this past season.

A little more than two months have passed since the start of the project, but there are still a few more things that need to be done besides fixing the cracks.

“We still have some drainage work to complete, some perimeter asphalt and dirt work, and of course the final court color coating,” Robinson said. “We have every intention of completing the project by June 30.”

Aldo Soto can be reached at 581-2812 or [email protected].