LEE -- The tennis courts at Lee Middle and High School are getting a long overdue upgrade thanks to a private organization devoted to promoting the sport.
Lee Community Tennis Asso ciation has raised nearly all of the $59,000 needed to repair and resurface the hard courts built more than a decade ago, according to CTA administrator Clare "Bunnie" Lahey. The project also includes improving the drainage around the six courts and making them more user-friendly for youngsters learning to play tennis.
The CTA and high school primarily use the recreational facility that is also open free of charge to the general public.
The work is scheduled to begin June 1 and be completed by June 30, the date for a special fundraising tournament in memory of Audie Furgal, who passed away in January. Furgal was a founding member of the CTA when it was formed in 1985.
While the 12-year-old courts are town-owned, Lahey said the CTA was compelled to improve them. She noted they have never been resurfaced; maintenance that should be performed every four to five years.
"Our mission is to provide facilities and programs for Lee and surrounding communities," Lahey said.
In 2011, CTA served almost 370 youths and adults from Lee, Lenox and Stockbridge. The youth programs have become a successful feeder system for Lee High’s boys and girls tennis teams, according to Lee Public Schools Superintendent Jason "Jake" McCandless.
"We have certainly seen our varsity programs get bigger and better because of them," McCandless said.
He also praised the CTA for undertaking a project too expensive for the School Department in the current economic climate.
"What they are doing is very typical of the CTA," McCandless said. "They have been wonderful for the town and high school."
Several years ago, the CTA raised money to provide lights for three of the six courts.
CTA officials, in turn, commended the town for contributing $10,000 toward the project. Dozens of CTA members, townspeople and businesses have also donated money and in-kind services.
The organization singled out the generosity of LB Corp. of Lee for providing $12,680 worth of pro bono work in Furgal’s name.
Her husband, Joe Furgal, said the project will allow the CTA to continue serving local tennis enthusiasts and youngsters wanting to pick up a racquet.
"By the kids seeing our programs in action and talking about them in school, in they come to join us," he said.