The city of Milton is hoping tennis players, both young and old, are ready to make some racket soon.
By then the city should have seven new tennis courts ready to go sometime late spring, but with a special twist.
One of the seven courts will be a dedicated 10 and under court, which will be the first of its kind west of Tallahassee in Northwest Florida, and a tennis facility that will meet United States Tennis Association standards.
“This is a very special project for us,” said City of Milton Parks and Recreation Director John Norton. “We had looked at making these improvements for a number of years, but the funding had been a problem.
“Thanks to a grant from the USTA along with a partnership between the city of Milton and the Santa Rosa County Board of Education this has become possible.”
The new tennis facility, which has been under construction since August, will feature six USTA standard tennis courts complete with stadium lighting.
These six courts will also feature a two-tone look to them so the courts can also serve as a 10 and under court.
Norton saw to this so neighboring W.H. Rhodes Elementary and other schools in the area can utilize the courts to educate and develop future tennis players through this new USTA initiative.
“We had looked at different places like Roger Scott Tennis Center in Pensacola and saw where everything was maxed out when it comes to good quality courts to play tennis,” Norton said. “This facility, when completed, will be the first in the area to meet the new USTA standards when it comes to lighting.
As the new year dawned in Milton, crews have removed the old fencing and tennis surface they have recently surfaced the new courts with are awaiting paint and fencing.
The partnership between the city and the county school system was possible as the new courts will not only serve the two middle and one elementary school in the immediate area, but will also serve as the home of the Milton High School boys and girls tennis teams.
For Milton Mayor Guy Thompson this project just adds to the offerings and a quality of life which he feels sets Milton apart from other communities its size in the area.
“We are very fortunate to have received this grant and we are partnering with the USTA as well as the Santa Rosa County Board of Education to promote tennis and help spread this wonderful game and sport,” Thompson said. “These new courts only enhance the offerings already in place at the Milton Community Center as we continue to move forward to develop more offerings to the residents of Milton and Santa Rosa County.
“I cannot tell you how proud I am of the work already done and where we will be when the project is completed.”
The courts will not only serve the citizens of Milton, but will be the home courts for the Milton High School boys and girls tennis teams.
"These courts will be used by Milton High School for their tennis matches and practice as well as other schools," Norton said. "We want to develop more interest in tennis.
"Part of the grant we received from the USTA will help us in 8-U and 10-U tennis programs that utilize a smaller court, lower net and lower compression ball."
The plan in place will involve the city of Milton paying for the work to be done on the courts and a yearly contribution from the Santa Rosa County Board of Education to cover their part for a five to 10 year period.
Santa Rosa County Schools Superintendent Tim Wyrosdick is excited to participate in this endeavor as it is beneficial to Milton High School as well as the other schools in the area.
“The partnership with the City of Milton provides a quality facility for the community and Milton High,” Wyrosdick said. “We are pleased to participate in a project that makes good use of public monies.
“Milton High now has a quality facility to compliment a growing program.”