1 of 2
Photo by Caleb Motsinger
Tyler Jackson and Nick Lombardo use the courts at the tennis center to entertain a group of children while working for the Alton Park and Recreation Department. Though some courts are fit for recreational use, most cannot be used for serious play.
2 of 2
Scott Mugge sprays rubble off one of the back tennis courts at the Dr. Raymond Simpson Tennis Center as the Alton Public Works Department works to renovate the courts. In many places, cracks are inches deep in the court, making some virtually unusable.
The Dr. Raymond Simpson Tennis Center is a diamond in the rough.
The tennis center at Gordon Moore Park in Alton is near the geographic center of the River Bend, and many believe it’s an ideal spot to serve Godfrey, Alton, East Alton, Bethalto, Roxana and Wood River.
But the facilities have not been significantly repaired or replaced since the center’s construction in 1991.
Alton Public Works Director Bob Barnhart has been working to fix that, though. On June 25, renovations began through the city of Alton that were made possible with grant funding used to hire workers to repair the site.
Alton Parks and Recreation Department Executive Director Michael Haynes said the courts will be resurfaced, seating will be replaced and the decks will be redone over the coming months.
“Mr. Barnhart will oversee 12 student workers paid through a grant to get the ball rolling on renovating the tennis center,” Haynes said. “But the upkeep of the tennis courts can’t just stop there; they will need work frequently.”
Kathy Claywell, a Simpson Memorial Tennis Program committee member, says her group has been raising funds for several months to secure the courts’ future.
“We’re a small group of concerned citizens, mostly tennis players ourselves, who just want to see the courts restored back to usable condition,” Claywell said.
Along with Nancy Ryrie, Nancy Simpson, Gene Ursprung, Marv Adler, Bill Diddlebock, Mike Haynes and James Humphrey, the committee has helped to raise more than $3,000 toward a $70,000 goal.
“In its heyday, the Raymond Simpson tennis center was an award-winning facility,” Claywell said. “But maintaining tennis courts requires constant upkeep, and that’s something the city hasn’t had the funds to do in recent years.”
The city last resurfaced the eight courts at the tennis center in 2006. Since, the surface has cracked and begun to flake. But with the recent influx of funds and supporters devoted to the courts’ renovation and upkeep, the future of the Raymond Simpson tennis center looks bright.
The tennis center has lighting for four of the eight courts, stadium seating, parking for 300 spectators and a pro shop with a water fountain and bathrooms.
“If kept up with, it could be one of the premiere places in the area to play tennis at,” Claywell added. “If we put aside and continue to raise funds specifically for the tennis center at Gordon Moore, we can build it back into what it once was.”