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Mokena Proudly Opens First 36' Courts in Northern Illinois!

Play Day Preparations
Exciting concept
The following narrative was relayed by Duane Smith, Athletic Supervisor for Mokena Community Park District, describing the timeline on how a small program grew and grew, with a dream and vision becoming a reality with the support of the USTA:

"The Mokena Park District first began offering Midwest Youth Team Tennis programming in the fall of 2012 indoors at The Oaks Recreation & Fitness Center after working with Illinois Tennis Service Representative Bret Schrama and NITA's Jr. Team Tennis & Recreational Programs Coordinator Kathy Emola. This first program was very well received and was offered during the winter of 2013 with the plan of potentially constructing 36' courts at one of the outdoor tennis facilities within the Park District's system. As Athletic Supervisor, Duane Smith felt that having an outdoor facility, custom tailored to the MYTT programming (shorter courts, age appropriate rackets, slower balls) and its activities would enhance the program environment and encourage even more kids to play.

The timing of this vision was perfect, as the Park District had already budgeted for one of their five park sites with tennis courts to be updated in the coming year, and a very supportive Superintendent of Recreation, Mary Beth Windberg gave the approval for Grasmere Park (a two court facility) to be chosen as the project location based on the amount of usage it typically received as well as its proximity to Mokena School District #159's Junior High School.
With the guidance of Bret Schrama, Tennis Service Representative from USTA Midwest, the Mokena Park District submitted a grant application to the USTA through their Public Facilities Assistance Program. US Tennis Construction commenced work in May in preparation for Park District programming in June of 2013.

The transformation and appeal of this rebuilt facility is amazing! The new facility at Grasmere Park is now host to one permanent 78' court which also incorporates blended lines for a 60' court, laid out in a north/south direction, and four permanent 36' courts laid east/west. A handicap entrance will soon be updated to allow for easier access to the courts. The full size court has permanent net posts, while the 36' courts have heavy-duty temporary posts that are left in place for public usage. Pending receipt of additional grant funds or District budget allotments, the four 36' courts will eventually receive permanent net posts.

The Mokena Park District now offers Midwest Youth Team Tennis (MYTT), USTA Jr. Team Tennis (JTT) and Play Day programming indoors and outdoors throughout the year! The Park District is hoping to become a host to 2014 "Earned Advancement" Tournaments for 10 & Under players, who will be required to meet certain requirements playing Red Ball and Orange Ball half day tournaments throughout the year before moving up to Green Ball tournaments on full size courts that earn USTA Midwest Ranking Points. There will be two "Earned Advancement Weekends" in each USTA Midwest District per month. The Northern Illinois District (NITA) of USTA Midwest, in which Mokena is located, will be soliciting and selecting two facilities per month within their 25 county area to schedule these events in 2014 as this new pathway for player development begins January.

In less than one year, the MYTT participation through Mokena Park District, much of which has been under the instruction of Certified Tennis Professional Cindy Heidkamp, has increased 88%, with the current July/August session of MYTT having a total of 32 participants, ranging in age from 5-10."