Tennis Court Remodels Near Completion Despite Delay

Hannah Bartman

The tennis courts, which are currently encased in a fence of construction, are due to open on Sept. 23. Unexpected rain caused a week-long delay in early June, but after three and a half months of construction the courts will be open in time for the Men and Women’s Fall Tournament, which runs Sept. 27-29.

Photo contributed by Brennan Johnson

“I believe the most important thing is to do the courts as well as they can possibly be done, rather than hurry to get them done to save three extra days of playing time,” said Vice President for Development and College Relations John Bogley.

The courts are an important and long-due addition to the Whitman College tennis program. Six courts will allow Whitman to host NCAA Championship tournaments, a handicap that Whitman faced with four courts.

“We’re the only nationally ranked program that doesn’t have six courts,” said Head Men’s Tennis Coach Jeff Northam. “It usually takes three-and-a-half to four hours to complete a match, but with us it takes four-and-a-half to five hours. [The new courts will] make for better practices and matches for the players.”

Matches consist of six singles games and three doubles games. The winner must have a minimum of five wins to win a match. With six courts, all of the singles matches can go on at once, whereas with four courts, only four singles games play simultaneously. With four courts, the winner of the match could have been decided before the last two singles games even had a chance to step on the court.

“It’s a different feeling going out there and knowing the match has been decided,” said sophomore women’s tennis player Kate Rubinstein. “You go out knowing you’ve already won, you’ve already lost or you’re the deciding factor. Now that we have the six courts, everyone plays at the same time and the game hasn’t been decided.”

League spans from January to May, but the courts will be in use during the fall by the tennis team for tournaments. Last year the women’s tennis team traveled to Southern California for nationals in May. Where nationals will be held this year is still undecided, but Whitman will appear as a more viable option to be chosen with the new courts.

“[The courts are] a very timely and important addition,” said Whitman Athletics Director Dean Snider. “We have been trying hard to host the conference championship by being the top seat, and we have been the past several years, so we’re trying to hold onto that. This now makes us a pretty desirable place to run the tournaments.”

An addition of 1,300 square feet was added to the tennis courts, and construction project manager Jeff Donahue believes the courts are turning out better than hoped. Other than a few lost trees due to the northern expansion of the courts, the campus was unharmed and Snider has not received any student opinions contesting the courts. The open and central aspect of the courts on campus creates accessibility for classes, club sports and late-night tennis players.

“The courts are in the midst of where people pass on a day-to-day basis, which contrasts in my mind very nicely with the coliseum-like tennis venues that you see in the U.S. Open. I think of this as such a nice counterpoint to that,” said Bogley.

Their central placement on campus is a staple of Whitman’s community, and will only be improved by the addition of two courts. The new courts offer extra space for all students on Whitman campus to enjoy, as well as creating an environment suitable for competitive varsity tennis.

Photo by Anna von Clemm