With a quick snip of the ceremonial ribbon and a rush to the nets, the Brooklin Public Courts were officially opened last week.
The brief ceremony marked the end of a year-long campaign to raise the funds for the construction of the tennis courts on the grounds of the Brooklin School.
Work on the courts has gone on throughout the summer, and earlier this month, the two asphalt courts got their final coat of acrylic paint. With the nets installed, they were ready to go.
The school band kicked off the ceremony by playing “Star Spangled Banner,” which was followed by a brief speech by Jon Hopkins, who headed the committee that raised the funds and planned the tennis court project. Hopkins acknowledged the work of the committee, the support from town officials and the generosity of those who donated to the project. The tennis courts, he said, were built for the town.
“These courts belong to Brooklin,” he said. “These are our courts for our community.”
The courts are public courts and will be open to everyone, except for a few hours each week when they will be reserved for the physical education program at the school, Hopkins said. Part of the reason the courts were located at the school was so tennis could become a part of the school program. Students have been learning and practicing their tennis skills indoors and last Thursday they got a chance to try out their new skills.
“We wanted to teach the kids a lifelong sport,” Hopkins said. “We wanted them to get an early start on a sport they can learn and continue to play the rest of their life.”
The students didn’t need too much encouragement. Once the members of the town’s board of selectmen, led by Chairman Albie Smith, had cut the ribbon to officially open the courts, the youngsters rushed inside the chain link fence and grabbed the rackets that had been set out. Soon, brightly colored tennis balls were being whacked here and there as the students gave the court its initial test run.
The idea for the tennis courts came from local residents, many of whom are or have been tennis players. All of the funds for the project were raised through donations from local townspeople, and through a grant from the Maine Community Foundation earmarked for the purchase of the tennis equipment, Hopkins said. The town handled the collection and disbursement of those funds.
“We raised all of the funds through private donations,” he said. “There was no cost to the town.”
A small plaque outside the courts recognizes the major donors to the project.
According to Hopkins, the courts committee established a budget of $132,000 for the project. That amount includes about $8,000 for anticipated maintenance on the courts, including repainting, and should cover maintenance costs for the first 10 years, he said.
Although the kids had first dibs on the court, Hopkins said he anticipates that the courts will be used regularly by a variety of people in town.
“There are a lot of people who play, or who have played or who might want to learn,” he said. “And anything that gets people out and exercising is for the good.”