The Rome Tennis Center at Berry College is now fully capable of hosting major NCAA championship events with the completion of the new six-court indoor tennis pavilion.
When anyone will actually get to play in it is entirely dependent on the containment of the novel coronavirus.
The facility had to be available in the event of rain during the Atlantic Coast Conference championships that had been scheduled for later this month. But the tournament was canceled along with all intercollegiate spring sports.
“Obviously amid the COVID-19 concerns, I don’t know that we will be able to do a grand opening sort of thing,” said Collin Cadwell, director of the Rome Tennis Center. “It’ll probably be a soft opening sort of thing.”
The entire tennis center is shut down for the time being due to the pandemic.
The hard-surface courts are exactly the same as the other courts at the tennis center. The poured asphalt surface is covered with multiple layers of paint.
Theoretically, the life span of a court before it needs resurfacing is four to five years. Cadwell said that, over time, the indoor courts may become smoother and slicker than the outdoor courts and will need resurfacing perhaps every six years.
The new indoor space includes spectator seating for more than 400, easily surpassing the requirements to host the ACC event. Only courts one and six lack courtside seats. Spectators for action on those courts will be seated at the side of courts two and five.
Ann Hortman, director of the Rome Sports Commission, said the completion of the facility will enhance her office’s ability to bid on major tournaments — particularly the collegiate tournaments that mandate an indoor facility.
“Bidding is becoming more and more competitive between the different communities and having this facility onsite is definitely a plus,” Hortman said.
While the indoor courts are equipped with heating and air-conditioning, Cadwell said he expects to keep the temperature in the building fairly consistent during the different seasons to hold down costs.
“There is going to be a learning curve there in terms of what’s going to be best,” he said.
There are multiple ceiling fans in the building, which create some air flow during play.
Each court is equipped with its own electronic scoreboard. Controllers will be hand-held wireless devices. When hosting an event, the court official will be able to easily control the scoreboard.
One thing that still has to be purchased is a court sweeper to clean up the yellow fuzz from tennis balls. Because the facility is completely enclosed, any day-long play during a rain event will result in a build-up on the courts.
“Outdoors, the wind generally provides a natural broom for the ball fuzz,” Cadwell said.