A rough start to the season for the Nation Ford girls’ tennis team has become even worse with the Lady Falcons left homeless.
Work was started over the summer to upgrade the foundation beneath the school’s tennis courts to prevent further cracking on the courts’ surface. Initially, the work wasn’t supposed to interfere with the start of the girls’ tennis season, but it hasn’t worked out that way.
The season started last week, and the team thought it would be in the clear to play home matches, considering it practiced on the courts for a couple weeks leading up to the season opener.
That changed late last week, when the courts were closed so work can be completed.
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Eight of the first nine matches on Nation Ford’s schedule were home matches; those have become road matches, and it’s estimated the work on the courts will be finished by late September.
“For now, we don’t have a place to play our home matches,” said Falcons’ Athletic Director Brian Turner. “Fort Mill High was our first choice.”
Turner looked at using the rival school’s courts, but scheduling conflicts prevented that. Nation Ford potentially could use the courts at Fort Mill High if things aren’t straightened out by the Sept. 20 target date, Turner said, but an arrangement would need to be worked out.
“There is no promise” regarding the completion date, Turner said. “It’s a foundational issue. The deeper they dig, the more problems they found.”
Along with firming up the foundation, the cracks in the court also need to be repaired before the surface is fit for match play. Fort Mill School District Assistant Superintendent Tommy Schmolze said the courts were built on unsuitable soil when they were constructed eight years ago.
The back 10 feet of the courts were cracking due to water draining under them, he said.
“We have to stabilize the back part of the court,” Schmolze said. “A structural engineer said they weren’t safe anymore. It’s not just about fixing it but making it safe to play on.
“There is so much water under there, they thought it was an underground spring.”
For now, Nation Ford is using the tennis courts at the Anne Springs Close Greenway Recreational Complex for practice but isn’t using them for home matches because some of the fencing around the courts isn’t high enough in some areas to contain balls during play.
“I appreciate the complex letting us use their courts,” Turner said.
Regarding play to open the season, Nation Ford has won only one match in its first two contests. The Lady Falcons fell to Clover 5-1 to open the season, then lost to Charlotte Country Day 9-0.
Against Clover, only No. 1 singles player Suzanna Goss picked up a victory, with a 7-5, 3-6, 10-6 win.
The Lady Falcons are scheduled to play at Gaffney and Charlotte Latin this week – both of which originally were home matches.