MARTIN, Tenn. – After a near eight-month construction phase on Skyhawk Varsity Courts, the University of Tennessee at Martin tennis team will officially compete on its new home courts for the first time this Friday, Sept. 13.
The action will begin at 7:45 p.m. with ceremonial remarks from the people responsible for the designing and building of the courts. The Skyhawks will then take the court at 8 p.m. for a match against North Alabama, with doubles taking place first. Around 9 p.m., the singles matchups will begin.
Turner Dairy Foods will provide free ice cream for all those in attendance on Friday evening.
This will be the first of three home events that UT Martin will host in the fall season, as it will also host tournaments on Oct. 11-12 and Oct. 25-27.
“We wanted to have as many events as we could to show off our new courts,” Skyhawk head coach Dennis Taylor said. “This will be a great time for professors or community members who wouldn’t normally get a chance to come and watch us because we play at 2 o’clock in the afternoon. Throw in the free Turner ice cream and it should be a good time for everybody.”
The reconstruction project began in January and lasted until August. Six of the 10 courts were completely bulldozed and built back from the ground up. Phase II of the project will take place in the future and will cover the last four courts.
As a result of the construction, UT Martin played all of its matches in the spring of 2013 on the road. Taylor has seen the anticipation in his players’ eyes as they gear up to play in front of the home crowd again.
“The players love the whole new environment,” Taylor said. “The balls are jumpy and really hop off the new courts. The spectator area has also improved so you can watch all courts easily. The lighting is top of the line – I would say it is probably as good as any professional venue. That allows us to play Division-I tennis at night, which is a huge positive.”
The Skyhawks return four players from last season, as seniors Ivon Simic and Katie McCall join junior Jessica Silva and sophomore Florence Nicole. Taylor also added a trio of star-studded freshmen in Sarah Candeloro, Tamara Klimek and Burcu Tari who will all look to make an immediate impact.
“We have a strong, very talented group,” Taylor said. “We are all working toward a common goal and we have the horses to go a long way this year with hard work and dedication.”