FARMINGTON — The temperature at the newly-renovated tennis courts at Hippach Field may have registered nearly 90 degrees by 10 a.m. Wednesday but a group of die-hard, mixed-age players weren’t about to miss out on being among the first to try out the new surface.

“It is fabulous,” said tennis player Michelle Witt of Farmington during a brief break in a set.

The sentiment was echoed by Stacey Edgar, Norman Ferrari, Tom Bissell and Rudy Stanzel. Ferrari, 81, has been playing tennis on Farmington courts for 30 years.

“There are no cracks, no anthills, no weeds. And there are new nets and a bench. This is so much better,” Edgar said.

The $40,000 project was funded by a $20,000 matching grant from the National Park Service’s Land & Conservation Fund, and $20,000 by the town of Farmington, that was built up over the years in a recreation department reserve fund.

“It was a good thing for the town to do. These courts get so much use,” Ferrari said.

The courts are heavily used by the community; the Mt. Blue High School tennis team, which has no court at the school; the University of Maine at Farmington team; and by the Farmington Recreation Department’s tennis instruction program.

The project, which closed the courts for four weeks, was awarded to E.L. Vining & Son, a heavy-equipment contractor in Farmington. Subcontractors were Fine-Line Paving of Madison and Vermont Tennis Court Surfacing, according to Vining.

Farmington Recreation Director Steve Shible said Vining’s bid came in lower than expected so there is money left over for amenities such as new nets and posts, benches, replacement cabinets for the sign-up book and a power box for the lights. Possible future purchases will be a new wind screen for the fence and upgraded lights.

The courts were first built in 1978 by Everett Vining, who founded E.L. Vining & Son. The town, under Shible’s recommendations, has had the surface maintained and cracks filled, but its 20-year life span has long since expired, he said.

The cost of resurfacing was prohibitively high but when some cracks were as wide as a quarter, he said something needed to be done. Shible’s assistant, Joe Nelson, compiled the documentation for the grant, solicited letters of support from the community, and submitted the application, which was awarded earlier this year.

High school tennis coach Stan Kuklinski, who has been a tennis pro for 28 years, is also pleased with the results of the project but said the fledgling team still needs more court space to accommodate the growing numbers of players, which now number about 30.

“Any time you can bring attention to tennis is a chance to promote the game. It is a family sport, it provides good exercise and health and can be played by young and old,” said Kuklinski, who hopes to offer free tennis clinics this summer to children and adults.

Recently named the Class A Tennis Coach of the Year, Kuklinski helped launch the tennis program at Mt. Blue three years ago. The varsity and new junior varsity boys teams use the Hippach Field courts every afternoon from April to May, while the girl’s team practices in Kineowatha Park in Wilton under coach Judy Upham.


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