In the middle of Bluff Park, there is an area known as Shades Cliff where people can join the community pool, let kids play on the area playground, sit in a gazebo or have a picnic with family. But for about 30 years, one lonely space in this area has gone unnoticed. Under overgrown vines, trees, and a lot of poison ivy, set a 36 foot slab of concrete that at one time was a viable tennis court. Andy Brayer, a local Bluff Park teen and Boy Scout, saw this space as an opportunity to help his community.
The scout was up for Eagle and needed a project to fulfill his requirements. Andy picked the project because his family loves to play tennis, and many kids and parents at the pool kept saying how cool it would be to have the court usable again.
Andy spent last summer clearing and repairing the tennis court for his Eagle project. The court had been sitting abandoned for some time and was overgrown with trees and vines. Due to some past loitering at the abandoned tennis court, several neighborhood residents were excited when hearing about the project to revitalize it. A few residents were opposed to the project because of concerns about street lights and privacy, but a compromise was met where Andy would not repair the lights for the court, so that the community could still benefit from having the revitalized area.
Andy worked on the project with permission of the Hoover Park Board and Mr. Craig Moss, Director of Hoover Parks and Recreation. Along with many other scouts, leaders and help from the community, 125 hours were put into this project. Work days were filled with cutting trees, pressure washing the concrete slab and repainting the lines.
Many community members stopped to offer encouragement or make a donation to the effort, but the Brayer's say that most people stopped to say that they grew up playing on the court and were glad to see it coming to life again.
To play tennis one needs a net and poles, and this proved a challenge for the team. The old net poles turned out to be rusted but at the same time were strong enough to be usable. The poles were also missing a winch. The winch is used to take up the tension by pulling on a cable running through the top of the net. A new winch was attached, and a groove was made on top of the pole for the cable. The new net was provided by Mr. Moss at the Hoover Park and Recreation Center. The court was finished back in August, and Andy received his Eagle in September.
After the project was finished, the courts suffered a small setback when someone released the net to the ground and then tightened it too tight. This resulted in the net poles caving in so that the net dragged on the ground. Andy and his family were shocked that the court was unusable only a short time after working on the project. “We all, Andy especially, felt that the project was not complete, and we wanted to make it right,” Lynn Brayer, Andy's mother, said. The Hoover Parks and Recreation was contacted and now the problem has been fixed, making the courts ready for the community to enjoy. With many young families coming into Bluff Park, the tennis court makes good use of the park space in the area.
Need to Know Info before you come to Play Tennis
-There are no lights so players should play in the day
-Supply your own racket and balls
-**in fall and winter players will need to bring a broom to sweep off any leaves that may have fallen between maintenance.
After completion of this story the Brayer’s have notified Bluffparkal.org that the net at the tennis court is broken AGAIN. This is the second time the net has been damaged after the tennis court was open in August. The steel cable to the net has been cranked to tight as before. Please check back for updates on this situation after the holidays.
We received another update on 2/18/07: The court is fixed and cleaned. The crank is gone so no one can break the net again. It is ready to use.
Photographs courtesy of The Brayer Family and Bluffparkal.org