Originally created 07/10/02

Tennis center getting a new look for big event



Eddie Smith has been in the business of resurfacing tennis courts for 27 years. His work at Newman Tennis Center is a prime example of the behind-the-scenes efforts winding down this week in preparation for the Georgia Games Championships in Augusta.

Both volunteers and professionals such as Smith are putting the finishing touches on renovations and refurbishments at facilities serving as venues for the games.

Smith, who works for Atlanta-based Talbot Tennis Inc., stumbled across the craft that would eventually became his lively hood.

"It's just something I happened on when I got out of high school," Smith said. "It's something I learned to do that not a whole lot of people know how to do. Even when the economy's bad, I've got a job. It's year-round work."

Smith works mostly in Atlanta, but assumes out-of-town projects three or four times a year. He has resurfaced courts on college campuses, such as University of Georgia and Auburn, as well as at Augusta-area high schools, like Greenbrier and Lakeside.

Newman Tennis Center director Dick Hatfield said Newman's 18 courts are normally resurfaced in sets of six, every three years. He is pleased with the progress being made this year, in advance of the Georgia Games.

"They've come in and done an excellent job," said Hatfield, who has been at Newman since 1990. "This is actually the best resurfacing job that I've seen in a while here."

Every few years, courts must be resurfaced in order to control the speed of the ball during play.

"The courts get slick and the balls come through faster, (making it) tougher for people to play," said Newman Tennis Center's head pro Michael Moody, who is refereeing for the Georgia Games. "This slows it down a little bit and makes the ball bounce a little higher. It makes it an easier game to play."

Other projects taken on at Newman in preparation for the Georgia Games include landscaping, planting flowers, fixing the nets, cutting branches and sprucing up the interior of the main building.

Smith finds himself in high demand during the days leading up to events such as the Georgia Games. He has seen his field become much more specialized in recent years than it was when he first started.

"When I got into it there was a bunch of young people that (were in) it," Smith said. "Now we can't get young people interested in it anymore. I'm probably the last of the breed."

Reach Lane Kramer at (706) 823-3221.