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Christopher Zajac Record-Journal
An idea has come up to turn one of the two pair of tennis courts on Lewis Avenue just south of John Barry School in to a basketball court, Oct. 25, 2013. The idea orginated when community police officers noticed a lot of kids playing basketball in the streets in the area. | Christopher Zajac / Record-Journal

Basketball idea for Lewis Ave. tennis courts on hold

MERIDEN — A plan to create a temporary basketball court on underused tennis courts on Lewis Avenue has been put on hold because the courts may be used by high school tennis teams because of ongoing construction at the schools over the next few years.

The work at Maloney High School and Platt High School will take away school tennis courts at various times and the Lewis Avenue courts are the best alternative, according to school officials.

“These are the only tennis courts in town that have four courts,” said Michael S. Grove, assistant superintendent of schools.

In order for the tennis teams to host matches, they need to have four courts, Grove said.

Plans to put a temporary basketball hoop on the underused courts was discussed by community leaders last month. Neighborhood police officer Dave D’Onofrio said since there are a limited number of outdoor basketball courts kids often play in the street and sometimes get in trouble. He suggested two of the tennis courts across from Columbus Park be converted into a basketball court, leaving two tennis courts.

But the Maloney tennis team is expected to lose its courts this spring and the Platt courts will be out of commission during the next school year.

“Maloney and Platt will go back and forth and use the courts,” Grove said.

Grove said the school system is already in the process of figuring out a bus plan to get the teams to Lewis Avenue.

This isn’t the first sport that’s been affected by the school construction. Maloney’s field hockey team used a field at Roger Sherman School for practice.

Maloney Athletic Director Howie Hewitt said he knows he can use the Lewis Avenue courts but has been looking at other options, including courts in Southington.

“We’re checking to see how many spots we can potentially use,” Hewitt said.

Platt’s athletic director Richard Katz said the Lewis Avenue courts are really the only courts in the city that could be used for high school competition.

“Unless I’m missing something,” Katz said. “There’s no other option.”

Katz said the Lewis Avenue courts will need a little bit of work, but he’s not too concerned about it.

Leaving the city for another town’s courts is something Katz said he does not want to do .

“Tennis needs to be played in Meriden,” he said.

Many young people in that part of town don’t play tennis and it would be nice to have the high school students play there, he said.

“Kids usually participate in things that are in their neighborhood,” he said.

The courts had also been discussed as a potential new location for the city’s skateboard park, which was displaced by the Platt renovations. Officials could not find a suitable alternate location and the equipment was placed in storage. (203) 317-2279 Twitter: @KPrimicerioRJ

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