John Jay tennis courts break ground (video)

John Jay tennis

Rob Labriola digs up the turf on the old softball field at John Jay High School, with some help from school board member Stephanie Tobin, during Monday’s ceremony to break ground for six tennis courts on the site. Also on hand for the event were, from the right, back row: school board members Scott Posner and Rich Stone, Interim Superintendent of Schools John Goetz, Sue Labriola, Denise Upham, Judy Aydeltott, Gordan Aydeltott, Stephen Cohen, Cal Kramer and J.D. Burke. — J.B. Cozens photo

After a two-years-plus effort to bring tennis courts to the campus at John Jay High School, ground was broken for the facility on Monday morning.

The six courts will be built in the grassy area that used to be the John Jay softball field, between the high school and the entrance road to John Jay Middle School.

Construction is being done by Oval Tennis and should take 10 to 12 weeks before the courts are ready to go, said Rob Labriola, the head coach of the John Jay boys tennis team and also president of the Katonah Lewisboro Community Tennis Association, which spearheaded the effort.

“It’s  great that we can actually turn it on autopilot now and let Oval Tennis do what we hired them to do,” said Labriola. “I’m hoping by the end of July, early August at the latest.”

More than $500,00 has been raised for the project by the KLCTA, a non-profit organization whose mission has been to donate the courts to the schools in order to “develop programs to bring tennis instruction and play to the students and residents of the community.”

The site will feature two bays of three courts each. There will be no lighting, at least initially.

Upon completion of the courts, the KLCTA will donate them to the Katonah Lewisboro School District.

Also taking part in Monday’s ceremony were Kataonah Lewisboro school board members Scott Posner, Rich Stone and Stephanie Tobin, Interim Superintendent of Schools John Goetz, and several members of the KLCTA — Stephen Cohen, Gordan and Judy Aydeltott, Joy-Denise Burke, Denise Upham, Sue Labriola, Carol Labriola and Cal Kamer.

In addition to providing courts right on campus for the John Jay tennis teams to practice and play on, the KLCTA is hoping to build interest in tennis in the community and make tennis part of the physical education curriculum in younger grades.

“With coordination with the town program and USTA league junior tennis, I think we can offer tennis as a sport and health program for a lot more people that don’t have access to that,” said Labriola.

He hopes that with increased participation, the John Jay tennis program can eventually compare to top program like Greeley, Byram Hills and Scarsdale in terms of numbers.

“We’re hoping to compete with programs like Greeley or Byram Hills. Horace Greeley has about 100 boys come out for team, JV and varsity. They have multiple teams, they have over 30 kids on the varsity boys. We have 14. We had a total of 31 kids come out for our entire program, JV and varsity, where they have 100,” he said. “The only way to build a program like that is to get it into the gym program in the grammar schools, and potentially get a modified team.”

Tennis-courts-renderingKramer, a former John Jay tennis coach, and current Section 1 Tennis Coordinator, said the courts would make tennis more a part of the John Jay community than ever before.

“This is tremendous that we can have courts right here at the school,” he said. “I think this is just going to be a fantastic addition to John Jay, and we might even hold a conference or section tournament here.”

For more information about the courts and the Katonah Lewisboro Community Tennis Association, visit its web site at www.katonah.usta.com.

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