Renovations set for UI tennis facilities


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Renovations at the Hawkeye Tennis & Recreation Complex have left many University of Iowa and Iowa City community tennis players short on court availability.

Three projects are either currently underway or are set to begin in the coming months at the complex, all meant to improve tennis and recreation facilities at the UI.

The first of the renovation plans involves resurfacing and painting the complex’s 12 outdoor courts, known as the Klotz Tennis Courts. According to the UI Facilities Management website, work began on the courts in February of this year, but unfortunately, rainy weather has played a hand in their completion, delaying reopening.

The outdoor tennis courts will have a surface free of iron pyrite, a metallic mineral found in the previous courts’ surface, and a new paint and color coat, said Harry Ostrander, the director of UI Recreational Services. Over time, he said, the iron pyrite has worked its way to the surface, creating small holes in the tennis courts, leading to the need for repairs.

Ostrander went on to say that the net height would change as a result of the new 2-inch thick overlay on the surface of the courts, leading to the courts’ posts needing to be replaced and reset and fencing needing to be changed.

Ostrander said this project would cost approximately $824,000.

The second of the projects occurring at the complex will replace the lighting systems at both the new tennis courts and in the practice turf areas, making them more energy efficient, Ostrander said.

“The new lighting system is supposed to take less than half of the energy of the existing lights,” he said.

According to the Facilities Management website, the new lighting system will turn on upon the project’s Sept. 6, 2013 completion date and will cost approximately $135,000.

Perhaps one of the bigger construction projects set to occur in the Hawkeye Campus area of the UI is an indoor turf addition at the Rec Complex.

Ostrander said the turf addition will be similar to the new turf facility built by the UI football team, but will not have the same height.

“The facility will include a 100-yard field with indoor turf and will be located to the north of the existing complex and east of the tennis courts,” he said.

The facility will cost approximately $16 million, with funding contributions coming from Recreational Services, intercollegiate athletics, and the Hawkeye Marching Band, Ostrander said.

UI officials hope to break ground on the facility in September, and construction is expected to take about a year and a half, Ostrander explained.

In spite of the reduced court space resulting from construction, the complex’s users have remained upbeat about the improvements.

“It will be nice not to have cracks in the courts anymore, because the pockmarks make the tennis balls bounce funny during matches,” said Ellen Cram, a UI faculty member and regular user of the courts.

While similar tennis facilities exist at numerous other Big Ten schools, including Michigan, Purdue, Wisconsin, and Illinois, Ostrander said when the updates are complete to the complex, the UI will boast one of the best in the conference.

“I think from an intercollegiate athletics standpoint, it will certainly be one of the top in the Big Ten as far as tennis is concerned,” he said. “As far as recreation is concerned, it will be one of the finest in the Big Ten in terms of what we make available to students, staff, and community members.”

Recent speculation has also surrounded other possible UI athletics expansion into the Hawkeye Campus area.

UI Senior Associate Athletics Director Jane Meyer said that for the time being, no definite building plans are in place.

“We do not have any firm plans on the Hawkeye Campus,” she wrote in an email. “… I anticipate we may have something in the next six to nine months.”

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