LINCOLN PARK — Oz Park's careworn tennis courts are getting served.
"They're in terrible shape," said Caroline Vickrey of the Oz Park Advisory Council. "They're kind of bald. All the color has worn off. As we like to say, they're well-loved.
"They're just so heavily used," she added, "and there's really nothing left."
Resurfacing would cost more than $100,000, but Vickrey said it's now on target for this spring after fundraising suddenly snowballed this fall.
Vickrey said it started when Ray Cahnman, a neighborhood resident who was a DePaul University tennis star in the mid-'60s and was just inducted into the Blue Demons' Hall of Fame last year, recently stepped forward with a lead gift.
"That really got the ball rolling," Vickrey said. "He basically guaranteed that it would be done in the spring."
Ald. Michele Smith (43rd) committed $30,000 from her discretionary menu account, and other local contributions followed. A $10,000 grant from the U.S. Tennis Association is pending but likely, Vickrey added.
The Chicago Parks Foundation joined in as well, fresh from a so-called Take the Court initiative to rehab courts at several city parks, paid for by the Pritzker Foundation.
"It was a critical partnership, because they are very well-versed in tennis courts," Vickrey said. "They came in with kind of the expertise and the contractor and the permitting and all that information."
There will be other improvements while they're at it.
"There are lots of problems with how people sign up for the courts," Vickrey said. Yes, there are the usual racket brackets to claim the next game, and Vickrey said it's generally understood that they're for odd and even hours.
"I think people like that," she said. "It's a way they can come over and put the racket up and then come back an hour later."
Yet some players found themselves getting kicked off after taking an open court 10 minutes or so before the next hour came up. Vickrey said the Advisory Council intends to add signs clarifying the schedule process as part of the renovation.
Donations can still be made through the Oz Park Advisory Council, and while they can be earmarked for the tennis courts Vickrey added that, if they top the needed amount, the money will go to other park maintenance and improvements.
The weather will dictate exactly when the work gets done, but the spring is a certainty. "It's going to happen," Vickrey said. Once begun, it should take a week or two.
"We're going to try not to interfere with the Lincoln Park team practices," Vickrey said, "but we also know that the Lincoln Park High School team will be very excited to get new courts."
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