Recently Northwestern has taken strides to upgrade on-campus facilities, and the men's and women's tennis programs are among the first to reap the benefits. Beginning early this summer, construction and paving crews got to work on Northwestern's outdoor tennis courts in the Vandy Christie Tennis Center, before switching gears to resurface the courts in the indoor Combe Tennis Center by the time winter quarter rolled around.
"The primary objectives for the outdoor courts were to improve overall drainage and remove several cracks throughout the playing surface," said associate director of facilities, Jack Morelan. Other fixes included new fencing, net posts, nets and windscreens, while upgrades were made to the landscaping around the courts and existing grandstands. Three courts will include blended lines for QuickStart Tennis programs for youth tennis players, Morelan mentioned.
Just a few weeks ago, crews turned their attention over to the Combe Tennis Center to resurface the courts for the first time since it opened in January 2002. The improvements result in a much slower indoor court - but that's a good thing, according to both Northwestern coaches.
"The resurfacing of the indoor courts is great," women's tennis head coach Claire Pollard said. "With the upgrade, both courts are the same speed, so now we do not have a tough transition going from in to out," something that happens frequently in the spring months as the weather becomes more unpredictable.
For example, on May 13, 2011, the Northwestern women faced IPFW in the first-round of the NCAA tournament on the outdoor courts. In a matter of 10 minutes, the temperature dropped nearly 30 degrees down to below 50 degrees Fahrenheit, at which point NCAA rules required a move to the indoor courts.
"It felt like two different matches for us," Pollard said at the time, "one indoor and one out. It was a strange set of circumstances, but we managed."
The transition will be "much easier for the varsity teams," men's tennis head coach Arvid Swan said. "The slower speed of the court will also allow the team to practice and compete on courts that are similar to the courts used for the NCAA championships."
While the already-pristine Combe Tennis Center didn't require all of the wear-and-tear upgrades like its outdoor counterpart, the indoor courts received a much-needed aesthetic enhancement with a nice purple and green duo-tone look to match Vandy Christie. Of course, fans of purple aren't the only ones who will be pleased about the color improvements, either.
"The change to a purple color on
the indoor courts will only enhance the aesthetics of the Combe Tennis Center
which is already the premier indoor collegiate tennis facility," Swan said. "We are very much appreciative of the significant efforts made to our outdoor and indoor courts."
"We're very excited to get out and play on the purple courts," Pollard added.
Both Northwestern tennis programs resume their seasons with their spring slates in January. the women will host the Wildcat Spring Classic in the Combe Tennis Center January 13-15, and men begin their season with a visit from Ball State and UIC on January 15, at 2 p.m. and 7 p.m., respectively.