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Apalachee tennis courts receive needed addition and resurfacing

Newest court in the land

POSTED: June 14, 2014 12:00 p.m.
Adam Wynn/Barrow County News

Apalachee senior tennis player Dima Sorokopud plays at Victor Lord Park. The new courts may keep Apalachee at home.

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After nearly five years of trying, the Apalachee tennis courts are finally getting a new face. 

Varsity men’s tennis coach Dan Woschitz first tried to get the fuzzy, yellow ball rolling back in 2009 when he returned from the summer to find that previously unobserved iron ore deposits in the asphalt had rusted to produce yellow flecks in the surface of the court. 

“There was a little bit of a problem with the asphalt we had before, as they said we had bits of iron ore in the asphalt, and that’s just the nature of where we are,” Woschitz pointed out. “You can only take asphalt so far from the manufacturing plant, and we got what looked like were rust spots that came through the paint on the court as the iron deposits worked their way through the court, so it looked like it was rusting. You can see it some places. It just looks like a little rust spot.

That particular problem seems to have been rooted out, though, with the installation of Apalachee high School’s brand new tennis courts. 

“We called some court experts out and they said they had seen that before. With this one, that problem is supposed to be taken care of,” Woschitz added hopefully.

With new surfaces replacing the older asphalt, Apalachee’s tennis players should feel a noticeable difference in the way the court plays and the way the ball bounces. 

Resurfacing is just one of the upgrades on the previous edition of Apalachee’s asphalt, though, as the new surface will feature an additional fifth court as opposed to the previous four.

“That’s something that I’d been pushing for since before we even got the courts at the school,” Woschitz noted. “Five courts is a great way to play.”

While adding just one court may seem like an insignificant upgrade to some, Woschitz emphatically stated how beneficial a fifth court is. For starters, it allows an entire line of five games to go at one time.

“It really helps us because we don’t have lights. This way we can play all five lines at one time without having to recycle a court,” Woschitz explained. “I think it’s a fair way to play. Usually the third singles is the last one to go on, and that was our strength. There could be some matches that end before our third singles even got on, whether we won or lost. We didn’t even have to play that one at times.“I think it’s a more fair way to play tennis and everybody gets on.”

Also, as the sun stays out longer and daylight savings time rolls around to extend the evenings even more later in the season, Woschitz foresees an ability to actually host the entire tennis team, both men and women, at one time.  

At present, both groups have to share the court with one team playing at the school and the other group playing at a community court like the YMCA or the courts at Victor Lord Park.

Now, though, the Wildcats can be together in one place.

“Now we can go have a match the same time as the girls. Say we could start the girls singles and the boys doubles, and as one singles comes off the girls, one singles goes on for the boys,” Woschitz mentioned. “I think we’ll be able to do that more.”

The added court only added a marginal distance to the overall size of Apalachee’s courts, though, as there were already sizeable gaps between the original four courts.  

From time to time, Woschitz said he would have players hit the ball back and forth in between two courts with a bench turned sideways to serve as a makeshift net. With the extra buffer between courts already in place, crews only had to extend the pavement’s width by 12 feet to add a full-size court.

 While the five-court facility is still just half the size of those at Flowery Branch and similarly large courts in the region, it is still an excellent step in the right direction for a program that has recently seen growing interest from students and the community.

“We have kind of a growing tennis community here in Barrow County,” Woschitz pointed out.

That community interest in tennis is another reason Woschitz is glad that Apalachee will soon be able to host more of their own matches, because then they would be placing less of an imposition on the community members who want to enjoy the public courts.

“The community is great and they’ve always embraced high school tennis, but I’m sure it must be frustrating for the adults to want to come out and get on the courts and, oh, there’s a high school match,” Woschitz illustrated. “It’ll be great for everyone having more courts. I’ve always been sensitive to taking up the court time.”

Apalachee is not alone in receiving the benefit of new tennis courts, though. Winder-Barrow High School was actually part of Woschitz’s efforts  in the beginning, and they are reaping the rewards at the same time as their rival.

“It’s a package deal, so Winder-Barrow is also getting their new courts this year, too,” Woschitz said. “I had tried to get our courts resurfaced in 2009, and the budget with the economy at that time wouldn’t work. I called then athletic director at Winder-Barrow Justin Grant, and he had the same people come over that we had look at ours.

“I said we had a professional come look at ours and I said, ‘Hey, you should, too,’ and he agreed.”

While Apalachee has had the use of four workable courts on-campus, the tennis courts at Winder-Barrow have not been playable for quite some time. In fact, Winder-Barrow’s courts have been out of commission for so long that Woschitz has never taken a team to play at Winder-Barrow as long as he has been the coach for Apalachee. 

It took some years, but now both schools will have their new facilities completed well in time for the 2015 tennis season. Winder-Barrow will not be receiving an additional court, though, as the layout and placement of the current area prevents any sort of measurable expansion.

Apalachee’s new courts are partially designed after the playing surface at the US Open, or at least they will share a keen resemblance to the world-renowned court. The Wildcats’ courts will feature a blue area in-bounds on a green field, with white lines serving as the boundary markers. 

With the school system’s investment in the new courts, Woschitz will continue holding himself and his student athletes to a high standard of maintenance and care for their long awaited and cherished facilities. 

“They put a concrete berm around it, so that’s going to help with the drainage,” Woschitz pointed out. “Our courts had never gotten to the point where they were cracked…but you could see where it was staring to come a little bit just over the years, and it’s something that needs to be kept up.”

Woschitz was clear to mention, though, that his athletes have always taken pride in their courts and they have always done their best to take care of what they had been given.

“We’ve done a good job of keeping the courts clean and sweeping them up and keeping the water from pooling, which is always a bad thing,” Woschitz went on to say. “Doing that, I think one of the things is that when you have a nice facility, and we have a nice facility and the kids take pride in it and it’s great that we can provide athletes with great facilities at Apalachee High School, it’ll help the program keep growing.

“When they see something that’s nice and taken care of and people are interested, that’s a magnet for more interest. We’ve always done that with our facility there. We’ve tried to keep them as nice as we can,” Woschitz added.

With all of the new features and the upgrades to the facility, including improved and increased bench seating for spectators and athletes in addition to the overlooking hill often dappled with blankets and camping chairs, some familiar faces will be back in time for the 2015 season.

“They’re saving some of my shrubbery we had planted in 2004 with then girls’ head coach Ed Bryan. He brought in some plants and wanted to make it a really nice tennis facility,” Woschitz reminisced. 

By combining the favorite elements of the old world with renovations designed to bring a flair of decorum and quality to the recreational complex at Apalachee High School, Woschitz and company hope to create a truly enjoyable experience for everyone involved in Wildcat tennis and in the greater Apalachee High School community.

“I’ve been talking to the players about it and sending them pictures of progress, and they’re all really excited,” Woschitz said. “It’s going to be good for the program and good for the whole community. We’re going to have some really nice tennis courts here.”



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