New and improved

Liberty tennis facility receives addional courts

Liberty University added six new tennis courts to the Hershey-Esbenshade Tennis Complex this summer in order to further the growth of the NCAA Division I tennis program.

Jeff Maren, head coach of the women’s tennis team for the past five seasons, said these new courts will add more space and greater opportunities for the tennis program to grow.

“These new courts help with the intramurals and with different school events,” Maren said. “It also helps with LCA because they have practice out here on the courts and matches for their team. By having 18 courts it frees up more courts for the Liberty students to come out and play and not be hindered by our team practices or LCA’s team practices.”

The six new courts began construction during early summer 2016 and officially opened Sept. 2.

To earn approval for six additional courts, last year Maren spoke with Liberty Athletic Director Jeff Barber and Mickey Grady, who is in charge of facilities, to get the additions for the Cook Tennis Center approved.

“The fact (is that) we have gotten better, and we have gotten a lot better players to come in and play for us,” Maren said.

“We have better results, better finishes in tournaments and better rankings. They see the growth in the program, and it would just make sense to add the facilities to add to the growth and the program and keep it going.”

The Hershey-Esbenshade Tennis Courts are open for any student or community member to practice on. Also, there are stadium lights to illuminate the courts for night tennis.

Women’s tennis team captain Evangeline Crist sees the benefits of the new courts early in this tennis season.

“The courts add so much more space for the team to be able to be practice at the same time as the men’s tennis team and for students to be able to enjoy the courts too,” Crist said.

The courts were built in three months and are open to the public, but have a few final additions to complete before they are game-day ready.

New tennis court logos will be added to the courts, and windscreens, benches and water coolers will soon be installed.

Once the final accessories are added, the courts will be ready for the spring season of tennis tournaments to begin.

Maren said there are more additions coming to the Cook Tennis Center facility. A patch of grass has been marked by Liberty for indoor tennis courts to be added next to the six new courts that were built this summer.

Currently the Flames tennis team uses The Sports Racket’s indoor tennis courts during the colder months to practice inside.

Giancarlo Lemmi, assistant coach of the women’s tennis team for the past four years, said indoor courts on campus would only propel the team to achieve bigger and better goals faster.

Lemmi said the courts allow for more practice time, better training facilities, and for the better schools to travel and play against Liberty on a home court.

“Driving 15 minutes to The Sports Racket during the winter is such a pain,” Crist said. “Having indoor courts right on campus would make all the players lives easier and save us a lot in gas money, too.

“Now that we have 18 courts on campus, we can host bigger tournaments, national championships, summer events and even pro tournaments in the future,” Lemmi said.

Mabe is a guest writer.

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