ROSEMOUNT – For a number of years, the Clay Panthers tennis team called their home courts such at Mound Park. For those unfamiliar with where Mound Park is located, it is near the corner of Grandview Avenue and Kinneys Lane in Portsmouth.
After a few incidents regarding Panther player safety resulted at the courts in Mound Park, Clay administration felt as if it was time to act to give their team a proper home close to their school, one in which team and community could feel proud to say they called home.
“I had to call the principal at the time, Mr. Warnock, and the AD, Mark Rose,” said Clay head coach Bobby Blanton. “Mr. Warnock decided the safety of the kids was priority so he and Mr. Mantell, superintendent at that time, got together and came up with a solution to get the process of building tennis courts underway. The school and the township worked out an agreement to have to courts built in the Rosemount Park area where they already had a walking track, basketball courts, and little league baseball and softball fields. It’s a great location and perfect spot for tennis courts.”
This season marks the first that Clay has used their new new courts in Rosemount. With the courts located in Rosemount rather than in Portsmouth, Blanton believes that has definitely been key in drawing more interest and more community pride in his team and their efforts on the court.
“With the courts located in Rosemount, we are in the heart of the community,” Blanton said. “A lot of the players and students of all ages live close to the park, so access to the new courts is literally minutes away. There are always people walking their dogs and enjoying the park. They stop and watch us briefly as they pass by. It has really increased the interest in the team and the program I think.”
With that increased sense of community pride also comes an increased sense of student pride, particularly with the Panthers on this year’s tennis team. Blanton says that his group is already mapping out plans to decorate the courts to add more of a Clay feeling to them.
“The kids are really enjoying the new courts. They have talked about painting a panther face or paw prints on them or decorating the fence surrounding the courts and also hanging banners. I think they enjoy being in the community and feel more at home in the park where a lot of them have grown up.”
With SOC and tournament play coming up this week and next for Clay, Blanton is hoping that the time and effort his group has exerted on the courts and during the season will pay off in the form of accolades and postseason wins.
“We want as many players as possible to make first or second team SOC,” Blanton said. “In order to do this, we have to perform well in the SOC tournament. We want to push for SOC singles and doubles titles this week. Next week, I just want us to win as much as our kids are capable of. We’ve been to districts every year i’ve been here, and we were fortunate enough to advance to state in doubles two years ago. We just have to take it one match at a time and not look too far ahead.”
For time and effort it took to complete the process of getting the courts, Blanton wanted to be sure to thank those individuals who helped make this new addition to the Clay tennis program a possibility.
“The players and I want to say thank you to school administration, school board, township trustees, and community members for their support and effort in getting the tennis courts built. We have received multiple compliments from various coaches and others about the tennis courts and the location. The Clay Local School District and I appreciate the City of Portsmouth and Shawnee State University for allowing us to use their courts and facilities at Mound Park and at SSU in the past seasons.”
Reach Jacob Smith at (740) 353-3101 ext. 1930, by email at firstname.lastname@example.org, or on Twitter @JacobSmithPDT © 2019 Portsmouth Daily Times, all rights reserved