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Tennis returns to James Buchanan High School

September 01, 2011|By ROXANN MILLER | roxann.miller@herald-mail.com

MERCERSBURG, Pa. — It's been 10 years since the James Buchanan tennis teams could say they had the home court advantage.

But thanks to the Fix JB Sports organization, the girls fall tennis team could be hosting its first home tennis match in just two or three weeks.

Tim Witter, co-chairman of Fix JB Sports, said the organization would spend between $140,000 and $150,000 restoring the existing 30-year-old tennis courts this fall and spring.

"They will look like brand new courts when it's done. We're not tearing out the existing asphalt that's there," Witter said.

Lancaster Asphalt Systems of Lititz, Pa., will renovate the six courts in two-phases, Witter said.

The first step in the process will be to mill out and repave approximately 1,700 feet of cracks and repaint the lines on the courts before the girls begin hosting matches.

The boys will play matches on the courts in the spring.

After the boys tennis season is over, the second phase of the tennis court process would be completed, Witter said.

"They will put up all new fencing, netting and posts, and repave the courts with a Petromat (paving) fabric and apply an asphalt overlay over the entire court," Witter said.

Initially, Fix JB Sports discussed moving the tennis courts to the front of the James Buchanan High School, but those plans were nixed when it became cost prohibitive.

"We had a complete set of plans prepared for design of a new (tennis) complex there. Costs really came in high," Witter said. "The way they (courts) had to be positioned to make them fit on the terrace wasn't just a nice three-on-three, six-court layout. It was an odd shape."

He said the cost was double what Fix JB Sports expected.

So, the organization looked at the existing courts.

In 2009, Fix JB Sports began a $1,965,000 capital campaign that Witter said has raised more than $900,000 in donations and pledges.

Witter said the organization already completed a track project and upgraded the swimming pool locker room.

"We've all suffered during hard economic times, but our community has been very supportive and very positive about what we're doing," Witter said. "We're not near the goal that we wanted to achieve — but even if we stop now we've made a difference and it didn't cost the taxpayers through raising taxes."

Next on the group's list is a parking lot to accommodate 101 spaces behind the football stadium bleachers and a building to contain a new restroom/concession stand/ticket booth under the same roof inside the stadium.

But Witter said the campaign is coming to a close at the end of this year.

"We're trying to make one last big push to the end of the year, and then we'll see how we fair out to see what projects we'll be able to do," Witter said.

The Alumni Committee, part of Fix JB Sports, is hosting the first James Buchanan High School Alumni Weekend Oct. 7-9.

"Hopefully, alumni will come back and participate in what's being planned starting on (Oct. 7 — homecoming), take a tour of the renovated high school, and we'll hopefully generate some donations from it," Witter said.

Athletic Director Larry Strawoet said without Fix JB Sports, the work that's been done to the athletic venues wouldn't have happened.

"We would not have it if it was just relying on the board and the taxpayers to have to fund this. There was just too much that needed to be fixed," Strawoet said.

Strawoet said more students are participating in fall sports than ever before.

"This has been one of the largest groups of kids participating in fall sports since I've been an athletic director. I just think the sense of pride kids have now in our facility is wonderful. Their whole approach, and their entire outlook is so much better," Strawoet said.

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