Tennis court closure causes controversy


Until this fall, the courts were open to the public.

Recreational tennis players now have to find off-campus options to hit a few volleys, as the Strohmeyer Varsity Tennis Courts at St. Edward’s University are officially closed to the public.

Until this fall, the courts were open to the public, as the gate was frequently unlocked. The courts received a facelift last year. During the renovations, the university had to shuttle NCAA tennis players to off-campus courts for practices.

According to Greg Cooper, the assistant athletics director in charge of facilities and event management, the decision to close the courts to the public was a tough one to make. However, constant use from NCAA athletes, non-NCAA players and even non-students from the neighboring area left the athletics department with no choice.

“The number of non-SEU users of the courts was becoming a major concern, and we had no way to monitor this without putting [people] down [on the courts] to check. On any given morning, there were between 10 and 20 people not from the SEU community using the courts, and that is a huge risk management issue,” Cooper said. “We deal with this same issue on the practice field north of the tennis courts.”

Last year’s court renovation was no small investment for the university, and according to Cooper, the courts have already started to deteriorate again in less than a year’s time.

“We had to minimize the foot traffic on the courts, and that the best decision was to limit it to organized and scheduled use only. This means the courts are only available for use by kinesiology classes, Campus Rec.-organized events and Athletics. This was not an easy decision, but a necessary one nonetheless,” Cooper said.

Some students are surprised and frustrated by the courts’ closures, as this eliminates a convenient athletic outlet. Senior Gerald Llorence often played on the courts recreationally with his friends in his free time, and is upset with the court closures.

“I feel betrayed by St. Edward’s University Athletics. It leaves a sour taste in my mouth,” Llorence said. “It would be much easier to be able to [play tennis] on campus right after class. I don’t see how the ‘public’ a.k.a student body is some sort of hazard to the quality of the courts. I feel like quite a lot of people played on those courts besides the tennis team. It’s a shame to see that community have to move elsewhere.”

When asked whether or not he would find an off-campus venue for his tennis playing, Llorence cited an important barrier that many students grapple with on a daily basis: money. Or, more specifically, a lack thereof.

“I am looking to play off-campus somewhere,” Llorence said. “Unfortunately it costs a bit of money at some other places off campus, but I still do want to play tennis so I will look around.”

Athletics said the courts will remain closed for now.

“[The Athletics department is] always open to finding ways for more scheduled and monitored use of the courts, but it has to be under [current] circumstances for the time being,” Cooper said.