Last week, I swung by the Cranston East girls tennis match against West Warwick, played in West Warwick. One thing that stood out to me was the quality of the courts at the public courts in the town, which was fantastic.
The turf was totally intact with clear paintwork. The nets were tight, not tethered, the fences and gates were secure with real seating areas.
I know I am nitpicking here, but when I began thinking about the quality of tennis courts in Rhode Island, it hit me that there is a lot to be desired for the most part.
Pilgrim, for example, baffles me. The surfaces are totally uneven and are poorly painted. I think about Winman Middle School where Toll Gate plays … the nets sag. Park View Middle School hosts Cranston East and recently got a makeover, but prior to that, same issues.
Unfortunately, tennis is one of those sports that do not get the same shine as others. It all begins at the youth level, where the youth programs are few and far between, and many of them are expensive. There just is not a tennis population the way there is for other sports.
However, there are plenty of tennis players and teams that deserve better.
When you think about it, these courts are used in both the fall and spring and are also used by the general public as well. I know that everything has a cost, and that type of thing is not cheap. But at the end of the day, whether it is in our coverage area or not, there are few tennis courts in the state that are up to snuff.
For Pilgrim and Toll Gate specifically, I am still holding out hope that one day they see the major Mickey Stevens restoration. I don’t like their odds, but I am not ruling it out entirely. Part of the renovations would include fresh tennis courts. Speaking of Mickey Stevens, I drove down there for baseball a couple times over the summer and was shocked to see locals using the courts. Those are about as bad as I have ever seen for all of the aforementioned issues I raised.
It really is not that difficult … a flat surface that is not cracked, with clearly painted lines and nets that are intact and meet the official requirements. That’s all.
I’ll give you my weekly football thoughts to finish off this week’s column.
First off, Hendricken held on to another big win over North Kingstown.
I know I harp on this a lot, but when looking at the way that game played out, how can people say that public schools do not have a chance when facing Hendricken and La Salle? The Skippers took the lead early and nearly came back in the end. That was not an off night for the Hawks, they were pushed to their limit and had to hold on in the fourth.
I get it, Hendricken won again. At some point though, one of these teams is going to get the job done. North Kingstown almost did it last week, Central should have done it last regular season, the Skippers almost pulled it off two years ago. Every season there is at least one nail biter and the Hawks have to dig deep to pull off the win.
I am not for a private school division as I have said in the past, and games like last week prove that they are not necessary.
On the other side of town, Toll Gate fell 43-7 to Coventry to fall to 0-2.
Toll Gate is going through a total rebuild this fall with a new coaching staff and a young roster. Growing pains were to be expected and the Titans were the underdog against the Oakers, who appear to have the makings of a championship contender.
My question though, is how long do we wait before deciding on the future of Toll Gate and which division it plays in? It was a playoff team in Division IV not all that long ago but has had a rough go in Division III.
Last season when it was bumped up, I don’t think that the program was incapable of competing in Division III, I just think it was a terrible time to move it up. Rewind two years ago, that Toll Gate team, in my opinion, would have been just fine in a division above. Last year though, the team lost quite a bit and the rug was pulled out from under it. It just wasn’t the time and now the team is getting beat up while it is trying to rebuild.
Obviously, there is nothing that can be done this fall, the team is in Division III and it is what it is. I just question what we will have to see from this team when determining where it stands for next season. Does it need to do a total 180 in the next two months to stay in DIII? No, not necessarily, but there are only so many 36-point shellakings it can take before pulling the plug and bumping it back down to Division IV. There is no shame in doing so if that is what it comes down to.
The Cranston West squad had a nice bounce back week against Burrillville, where it won by multiple scores.
After a down 2021, this season is supposed to be a rebound year as the Falcons return much of its same roster. The team had the game in hand against West Warwick the previous week but saw it slip away, so many of us questioned where this team stood in the Division II picture.
Well, with that kind of response against a program like Burrillville, I think it is clear that this team will be competitive in this new division. The question is how high is its ceiling?