Bristol lays out new tennis courts

BRISTOL — After nearly 40 years of game play, the Bristol tennis courts are finally getting a much-deserved facelift. The Bristol Recreation Club Inc. is replacing the two existing tennis courts, which were originally installed in the mid-’70s and have since been patched, re-surfaced, and re-patched.
“Our only option was to tear them out and start over,” said Jim Devall, former president of the Bristol Recreation Club and current chair of the Field Committee. Devall has helped head up the fund-raising effort for the new courts, which began eight months ago.
“It became obvious that we needed to do something,” he said.
The cost of the new courts, situated off Airport Drive in the Bristol Recreation Fields, was estimated at $50,000, and of that cost, the Recreation Club needed to raise $20,000 via fund-raising efforts. These began early this year, when the club qualified for a $3,000 community grant from the Co-operative Insurance Companies of Middlebury. The gift was part of Co-op’s Community Grant Program, which was established in 2004 to assist with community projects in Vermont and New Hampshire.
The United States Tennis Association recently came through with a $10,000 grant for the project.
An additional $6,000 was raised by Bristol residents in response to the 200-some letters the club sent out to households in the community, asking for help. The community has been extremely supportive of the endeavor, according to Gerrie Heuts, a member of the Bristol Recreation Club and until recently the director of Bristol’s Recreation Department.
“The town of Bristol was very involved,” she said. “There was a strong tennis community here in the early ’80s, which has continued.”
The courts, she said, have played host to round-robin tournaments, the Mount Abe tennis club, and other competitive tennis leagues over the years.
“The courts were so bad, though,” Heuts said, “no one wanted to play on them.”
The old courts were “pulverized” and ripped out on July 12, and new gravel and asphalt were laid shortly after. A second coat of asphalt was put down on Aug. 3, and after it has cured for two weeks, the courts will be sealed and painted.
People started hitting the ball around on the new courts for the first time last weekend, although they aren’t officially open yet. The lines need to be repainted.
Devall is happy to see the court restoration come to fruition.
“We expected to be playing by the end of August,” he said.
Maggie Cyr, current president of The Bristol Recreation Club says her organization really appreciates the support received from the community for these new tennis courts and is anxiously awaiting their completion.
“Bristol has a long history of tennis folks,” Heuts added. “This will be a welcome addition to the community.”

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