Sweet Briar Breaks Ground On New Tennis Courts

Assistant tennis coach Tom Boylan (back row, from left), head coach Teresa Boylan, Sally Old Kitchin ’76 and Sweet Briar president Phil Stone join the Vixen Tennis players to mark the start of a construction project to redesign and replace the team’s home courts.
Assistant tennis coach Tom Boylan (back row, from left), head coach Teresa Boylan, Sally Old Kitchin ’76 and Sweet Briar president Phil Stone join the Vixen Tennis players to mark the start of a construction project to redesign and replace the team’s home courts.

SWEET BRIAR, Va. — Sweet Briar College this month broke ground on a renovation of its home tennis courts. The College anticipates completing the project by the end of May — just in time for Reunion and summer tennis camps.

Vice president and general counsel Nancyellen Keane '78, who is managing the project, says existing courts are being "reconfigured and redesigned."

The current layout consists of two sets of seven courts, one immediately behind Williams Gym and the other on a terrace below. The scope of the work this spring calls for the upper courts to be rebuilt from scratch, Keane said, resulting in six new courts in place of seven.

The redesign will provide proper spacing of the courts and an ample viewing area adjacent to Court 1 for Vixen Tennis home matches.

The construction also features an improved drainage system, as well as new fencing, surface, subsurface and nets. Crews are digging 9 inches into the ground to completely remove the old subsurface.

Steve Bailey, Sweet Briar's physical plant director, says about 100 truckloads of the old asphalt have been removed from the courts. Grounds crews recycled the crushed material to repair gravel roads elsewhere on campus. A 6-inch base of stone will underlie the two top asphalt layers — a 2-inch base plus a 1-inch surface coat.

Everything meets NCAA and Intercollegiate Tennis Association standards, says Teresa Boylan, head tennis coach and the College's athletic director — and the improvements send a message to prospective students.

"We are an equal participant in the Old Dominion Athletic Conference and Mid-Atlantic region for quality tennis," Boylan said. "An updated facility shows that the College is committed to a varsity tennis presence, and to a year-round 'grow-the-game' facility that will support learning and playing.

"Tennis recruits will see that our wonderful school is creating high-level opportunities for them to be successful. You can be pre-med/pre-vet/engineering and play high-level tennis on championship-quality courts here at Sweet Briar College."

Boylan admits it will be nice to host conference matches at home again, but she is also eagerly looking forward to welcoming alumnae back for a fall tennis round robin and social.

"Now that construction is underway, I have put these events on the books!" she said.

The renovation is made possible through contributions from alumnae and other Sweet Briar supporters, including support from the Van Der Meer family.

Van Der Meer is part of a 107-year history of tennis at Sweet Briar, having held adult summer camps on campus since 1979. The courts were last resurfaced 13 years ago, so this renovation allows that tradition — and the auxiliary revenue that comes with it — to continue.

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