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Tennis courts in disrepair leave athletes in danger

Treven Hipwell, Staff Writer

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Treven Hipwell
This crack between the courts at Cody Park in North Platte has been dubbed “The Grand Canyon”

If you play tennis in North Platte, you play at your own risk. There is no promise of a safe game or a fair competition.  

Over 80 boys and girls play tennis for North Platte High School at Cody Park because there’s not enough room at the school. The problem is, they play on dangerous, unmaintained courts.      

At Cody Park there every single court is ridden with dead spots, cracks, sunken nets, and shotty patch-repairs. One crack has been dubbed “The Grand Canyon.” Players get injured. People’s feet routinely catch in cracks on the court, slide over patches without traction or poorly covered holes, and ankles are rolled. 

On Oct. 5, Class B No. 2 State Seed Zion Moyer of McCook rolled his ankle on the courts, forcing him to forfeit the rest of his matches at the Greater Nebraska Athletic Conference competition. At the State tennis competition, the pain still affected his game.   

Treven Hipwell
North Platte High School tennis athletes play on unsafe and neglected tennis courts at Cody Park in North Platte, Neb.

Senior Zeik Florea calls the courts a hazard. “You step on a dead spot, you run back to the fence and get your foot caught [in the gutter],” he said. 

As student athletes, we should have the facilities to play and practice without the possibility of injury. “I just think the safety of the kids in this town is important,” tennis coach John Lehmer said. “I think the city should care about that.” 

The tennis courts are not only dangerous, their condition affects the game. “They’re not the greatest courts,” said junior Ethan Mercer. “Because of the court, the bounce of the ball changes.” The players get scored on and lose points, not because of their skill, but because of the condition of the surface.

Senior Carter Lukas says the courts are in disrepair. “They need to be replaced,” he said. 

North Platte Public Service Director Layne Groseth said it would cost $500,000 or more to redo the courts, but there isn’t a lot of money in the city’s budget for large capital projects. 

Instead, the city is only doing basic maintenance and crack repair. Park Supervisor Lyle Minshull said that inspection and repairs happen once a year. “If we feel that they are in good enough condition for the public to play on, we’ll delay [repairs] until it’s necessary,” he said.

NPHS Activities Director Jordan Cudney said the park’s courts aren’t an ideal space for practice and competition. “Cody Park is, in its current condition, not a great facility for us to use,” Cudney said.

You step on a dead spot, you run back to the fence and get you foot caught [in the gutter.]”

— NPHS senior Zeik Florea

Cudney said that it’s difficult to work with city organizations to allow the school to use their facilities for our athletics. “Whether it’s Cody Park or Dowhower Softball Complex,” Cudney said, “I’m kind of at their mercy.”

Cudney said that part of his vision is to give each sport the space to practice and compete on the high school campus. “A part of that would would be taking our four tennis courts and building four more,” said Cudney. 

The City of North Platte should care about the nature of its tennis courts. The high school should care that its student athletes have safe facilities to practice on and perform at the highest of their abilities. The two public entities should come together and stop playing the blame game, find a solution to the problem, and make it happen. Registered voters can help students and the community by voting in favor of a tax increase for improving the parks and recreation services.  As a community, we can come together to provide a better playing environment for our student-athletes.

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