St. Anthony Community Center completes tennis court renovation

On Sunday, Sept. 17, the St. Anthony Community Center will celebrate the renovation and reopening of the tennis courts on the center’s property in the heart of the town.

The tennis courts have been a staple at the community center for many years, but time has taken a toll on their condition. The courts had developed cracks, and the surface had become weathered. Though the courts had been popular, the disrepair had likely impacted that popularity among players.

However, with the multiple roles the community center plays for St. Anthony, the use of its other facilities for events like the St. Anthony Fireman’s Fest and hosting the Liniment League meant children would migrate to the courts to play. According to board president Nathan Butkauskas, to a certain extent, this was a safety concern for them.

Several years ago, the board began considering how to update the tennis courts, but the pandemic put a pause on those efforts until 2022. Then, with funding assistance from the Dubois County Community Foundation ($15,000) and the United State Tennis Association (USTA) ($20,000), as well as about $5,000 in donations from about 50 St. Anthony community members, the center began the complete reconstruction of the courts.

That included the removal of the original four inches of asphalt surface and the 12 inches of subgrade, which was then rebuilt and resurfaced. The condition of the original subgrade precluded the need to strip the courts down and completely rebuild them. That created additional costs for the St. Anthony Community Center. Still, with the damage caused by water infiltration and time, it was a necessary step to ensure the courts remained a feature in St. Anthony for years to come.

The new courts are also designed to facilitate multiple generations of play. They include regulation-size lines as well as lines for a 60-foot and 36-foot court for younger or less experienced players.

Along with the new courts, the community center has taken advantage of the partnership with the USTA to bring additional services to the area. In addition to the funding, USTA has provided the community center with tennis rackets, balls and temporary nets to loan to anyone interested in the sport.

With pending membership to the USTA as a Community Tennis Association (CTA), the community center will also become part of the Serve Tennis program. “In general, the tennis courts are always open for anyone to play, but the connection with being a CTA and their Serve Tennis program will allow folks to reserve courts ahead of time if necessary,” said Butkauskas. “Being a CTA, we have the ability to host and rent courts for USTA-sanctioned events.”

Along with the new courts, the community center has teamed up with the Tri-County YMCA to offer an introductory tennis course in October to introduce more people to the sport. And Butkauskas has been in talks with Southeast Dubois County School Corporation to offer programming at the community center.

Butkauskas said that with the community center’s role in St. Anthony, it is important to take care of the assets on the property to increase participation and membership.

“It is important that we maintain and perpetuate what we have,” he said, pointing to the pride the community has in the community center and the other features of St. Anthony.

Sunday, the St. Anthony Community Center will celebrate the opening of the courts this Sunday from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. with giveaways — Butkauskas noted they will have tennis swag, including balls and tennis rackets as part of those giveaways — and burgers and drinks for those in attendance.