BENNINGTON -- Wimbledon got your blood pumping? A new agreement between Bennington College and the Bennington Tennis Center will allow local fans of the sport to play outside on fresh courts amid a beautiful backdrop.
"Honestly these are some of the best courts in the state," tennis pro Seth Gabriel said, speaking Wednesday at the newly resurfaced courts at the college.
Under an agreement signed last month, the tennis center has agreed to manage the college's outdoor courts and provide an active program for students, staff, and faculty. In exchange, center members, their guests, and the public now have access to the courts for outdoor fair weather play.
Gabriel said the four outdoor courts combined with the three indoor courts at the tennis center's inflatable dome gave local players more flexibility. "When it's raining we can pop back inside," he said during a sunny break to recent rain Wednesday afternoon.
Outdoor plans through the summer include beginner, intermediate, and advanced clinics; several junior programs; and a "meet and greet" event for students later this month.
"What we're hoping for is a perfect marriage," said Bennington College's senior vice president for administration and planning, David Rees, who said the change would make the courts more available to both the college community and greater Bennington.
"Seth and Dan (Rowe) are both great guys and good teachers," Rees said. The tennis courts at the college date back to 1932 and were originally clay before being converted to their current hard rubberized surface about a decade ago.
"They're incredibly good courts ... U.S. Open quality," Rees said, hard but soft on the knees.
"They play beautifully."
Gabriel said the tennis center in Bennington had seen nothing but growth since opening in 2010, with the indoor venue drawing families and high school and college teams from a wide surrounding area. Intercollegiate or club play at Bennington College will be determined by students' interest going forward.
With current live television coverage from Wimbledon, "people get really excited," Gabriel continued.
So how do you get involved in Bennington? "People just have to come out and meet us," Gabriel said.
To reserve an outdoor court at the college, players should call 802-379-6595. Reservations are encouraged but walk-ons are also welcomed. Tennis center members play for free but there's an honor charge for the public of $10 per person, per hour.
For more information, visit www.benningtontenniscenter.com or call 802-447-7557.
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