Up to serve, Knox Board receives tennis request from support group

Artwork of a tennis court stripping

The ball is in the Knox County Board of Education’s court as to the future of tennis courts being constructed for Knox Central High School.

During the public comment section of Monday night’s Board meeting, parent Rodney Smith approached the Board with facts and figures of other tennis programs around the region.  With schools having from two to six courts, Smith made the point that Knox Central students are having to share courts with Union College for both practice and competition.
“From what we can find out, and again we challenge you guys to fact check us here, we are the only county school in the state that does not have it’s own tennis courts,” stated Smith.

“It’s never been a problem and I know you guys are thinking, why now?  Tennis is growing.”

Superintendent Sprinkles confirmed to the Board that not only is the program growing, but players are advancing to state levels of competition and are also signing to be a part of collegiate teams.

Coach Roscoe Moonieyan from Union College was present to confirm those facts.  “Just a few things that have become tough over the last four to five years, the growth of tennis in Barbourville amongst a lot of the high schoolers and our teams as well.”

Coach Moonieyan explained that the issue becomes with men and women’s college teams are both ranked nationally and are limited to practice times after 3 pm per the college.  Four teams, junior and varsity teams, must practice at separate times.  Then you schedule in the needs of the high school program.

Superintendent Sprinkles shared with those in the audience that this was not the first time tennis has been on the radar for him and the Board.  Already he has met with the school district’s architect to discuss the feasibility of locations and estimated costs.  Sprinkles assured the group that the need for tennis courts would not be ignored and he would continue to work with the Board and architects to gather more information.

As of Tuesday morning following the Board meeting, Superintendent Sprinkles had already contacted architect Scott Noel to discuss obtaining drawings of possible court locations.  Barbourville Utilities’ Josh Callihan was also contacted to discuss the electric service needed to power lights for the courts and locations where that voltage could be supplied.

Funding is one of the major considerations when looking at constructing the courts.  While many local business owners have expressed that they would volunteer to provide materials and labor, the district still must follow the Kentucky Department of Education guidelines for facilities.   “The community can go out and build a tennis complex – but without going through KDE that facility would be unusable according to state regulations,” explained Frank Shelton, who oversees governance for the district.

Can the community volunteer or make donations?  Yes.  Once the district submits a BG-1 application to KDE, the process begins.  The contractor may work with local business owners to provide labor services for facility construction.

“While funding is not certain, that’s not to say that through conversations and work sessions that the funding wouldn’t be available at some point in the near future to start the project.  There is always uncertainty when starting a new school year on what actual funding the district will receive, enrollment numbers, and any other urgent instructional needs that were not planned for.”

“We will keep our parents up to date on this as we move forward,” said Sprinkles.  “We know this is a need, our students are demonstrating great performance in tennis, but it will take time to work through the logistics and go through the construction approval process with the Department of Education.”