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Town takes first steps in care and resurfacing of Hargraves Community Park tennis courts


The tennis courts in Hargraves Community Park are pictured on March 4, 2023. The courts are in the process of being repaved. 

Hargraves Community Park has long been a place for marginalized communities to be able to have equal access to tennis, which has been traditionally viewed as a "country club sport" according to Chapel Hill-Durham native Warrick Taylor.

But, residents say the tennis courts have been neglected in recent years.

"Nothing has been done to these courts for ten years or more," Jerry Edwards, a member of the Friends of Chapel Hill Public Tennis, said.

Edwards, who has played tennis on Chapel Hill courts for over 40 years, expressed concern that the Town of Chapel Hill has let the Hargraves Community Park tennis courts deteriorate.

The Town of Chapel Hill is working to address these concerns by taking prospective bidders to renovate the tennis courts and facilities at Hargraves Community Park.

These "bidders" are interested contractors who meet the requirements and are interested in the job. They will provide evidence for how long they think the estimated time of construction will be and how much the project will cost. 

A pre-bid conference is taking place at Hargraves Park Community Center on March 8 at 11 a.m. Attendance is mandatory for the contractors in order for their bids to be considered by the Town.

The new courts will have LED lighting and an accessible path from the parking lot.

Kelly Gaines, executive director for the United States Tennis Association in North Carolina, said over 80 percent of all tennis is played on public courts. 

Gaines said the United States Tennis Association, a non-profit organization, helps promote and develop tennis in the state with local and state leagues and tournaments. 

"I believe that everybody should try our sport and that's why I'm so passionate about public parks because I believe that that's the best way because not everybody's going to get to join a club," she said. 

Gaines said Hargraves Community Park is a place that allows Chapel Hill residents to have tennis as a healthy outlet. She also said children who play the sport get better grades in school and are more likely to go to college. 

"It's really important that we provide as many public opportunities through schools and through parks that we can for kids to try," Gaines said. 

Taylor owns EMPACT Tennis & Sport Performance and is the executive director of the Love to Serve Tennis Foundation. He said the Love to Serve Foundation is a nonprofit organization dedicated to sharing tennis with under-resourced communities. 

Because Taylor grew up playing on the tennis courts at Hargraves Community Park, he said his goal is to give local kids access to tennis in places where it is not readily available. 

He added that the courts at the park, which are in the Northside neighborhood, have had prestigious players practice there. Taylor specifically highlighted Jimmy Jackson — a former professional tennis player who was a world number one ranked junior doubles player.

Taylor said EMPACT's goal is to help to maintain the quality of the tennis courts in Chapel Hill, including the ones at Hargraves Community Park. 

"We've been totally committed to keeping tennis in the forefront and being in a position to try to raise money to get to keep the courts that we have and then get access to more courts," Taylor said. 

The project plans for the reconstruction of the tennis courts can be found here

@DTHCityState | 

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