Parks & Rec: Sales of Mead Park Tennis Permits Nearly Doubled in 2020

Sales of permits to play tennis at Mead Park nearly doubled year-over-year in 2020, parks officials say, while revenues generated through clinics and lessons nearly tripled last summer. The outdoor sport, where players are already socially distanced, saw activity rise especially among adults in 2020, according to Parks & Recreation Commissioner Laura Costigan. The rise in use of the courts “has just been astonishing,” Costigan told the Commission during its March 10 meeting, held via videoconference. “It will be interesting to see, now that the other sports are coming back and travel teams are coming back, if it continues,” she said. Costigan’s comments came during an update to Parks & Rec from the appointed body’s tennis committee and just two years after officials bemoaned waning interest in tennis here.

Five ‘Pickleball’ Courts To Replace Hard-Surface Tennis Area at Mead Park

Town officials say they’re converting a standalone hard-surface public tennis court at Mead Park into a series of “pickleball” courts for use by New Canaan residents. Located up behind the collonade on the western edge of Mead, a tennis practice wall area also will be converted into a a pickle ball court so there will be five in total, under a plan that’s expected to go before the Board of Selectmen later this month, according to Public Works Director Tiger Mann. “The overall thought is to redo that hard court at the top, take away the trees that are along the railroad tracks, since they are damaging most of it, resurface or put an entire post-tension concrete surface below, surface the top of it, put in new fencing and then some additional trees in the back just as a buffer to soften the look along the railroad tracks,” Mann told members of the Parks & Recreation Commission at their regular meeting, held March 10 via videoconference. 

The practice wall will remain with a pickleball court lined out on what will be the new post-tension concrete surface that will bring it up to the same grade/level as the other four, Mann said while showing schematics drawn up by West Haven-based Hinding Tennis LLC. Asked when he’d like to start the project, Mann said, “Now.” Once the concrete for the surface is poured, it takes about three weeks to cure, according to Recreation Director Steve Benko. Pickleball is a “paddleball sport” of two to four players “that combines elements of badminton, table tennis, and tennis,” according to Wikipedia.

Parks & Rec: Tennis Court Usage Up Amid COVID-19 Emergency

Officials say they’ve seen a sharp rise among residents seeking passes to play tennis at Mead Park this summer. 

The town has sold 216 total passes compared to 144 last year, Parks & Recreation Commissioner Steve Haberstroh said during the appointed body’s regular meeting Wednesday. 

Within those figures, the number of adult passes has increased year-over-year from 59 to 115, while youth passes have increased from 17 to 42, Haberstroh said during the meeting, held via videoconference. 

“Likely due to COVID, people are interested in tennis again,” he said during an update on tennis activity. 

The courts at Mead Park and New Canaan High School both are seeing robust regular use, Haberstroh said. On good weather days, 35 to 45 courts are used daily at each location, he said. Starting May 10, the high school courts began requiring users to register ahead of time to use the courts and had an attendant there to ensure CDC and U.S. Tennis Association guidelines are followed, and 450 people signed up, Haberstroh said. The only user group buying fewer passes is seniors, down slightly from 65 in 2019 to 56 this summer, he said. The reason for the overall increase likely is that residents are looking to do outdoor sports and to social-distance amid the COVID-19 public health emergency, Parks & Rec commissioners said.