There are three sets of tennis courts in Morgan County.
One set at Cacapon State Park.
One set at Biser Street in Berkeley Springs.
And one set at Coolfont.
All are not regulation.
All are not in great shape.
For the Berkeley Springs High School tennis team, this means that there are no home matches. All matches are played away.
Ryan Fincham and the Morgan County Tennis Association are out to change that.
Fincham is the chair of the Morgan County Tennis Association (MCTA).
His son Haden is now a sophomore on the Berkeley Springs High School tennis team.
For a couple of years now, Fincham and MCTA have been working to get the county to build new regulation tennis courts.
“Years ago when my son started playing tennis, I realized – there is not one regulation sized playable court in the whole county,” Fincham told This Week in Morgan County with Russell Mokhiber. “That just blew my mind and that’s what started me on this journey.”
Fincham says his campaign to secure playable regulation size tennis courts back in 2015 when he walked into the Board of Education meeting and signed up for public comment.
“I stood before the Board of Education and I said – we have a tennis team, we have had one forever and we have no courts. Let’s build ‘em. And they all shook their heads and agreed. But there was just no funding.”
Fincham gave power point presentations to Parks and Rec and the County Commission and to the Board of Education.
“I got some good advice about two years ago,” Fincham says. “The person said to me – Ryan, in a small community with limited funding, it takes a bulldog. If you want something done, someone has to be the bulldog. I went home that night and I said – I guess I’m the bulldog. And I’ve been bulldogging it ever since.”
Fincham says it takes four courts to host a high school match and they will cost about $250,000.
In September 2018, the School Board voted to allow four courts to be built next to the Warm Springs Middle School soccer field.
That opened the door to funding, Fincham said.
Fincham has raised money from the U.S. Tennis Association (USTA) Mid Atlantic Region, from the Morgan County Commission, Parks and Rec, and from individual donors online.
So, far the Morgan County Tennis Association has raised $160,000 of the needed $250,000.
A big chunk of the $160,000 came from an anonymous donor, Fincham said.
He seeking to hit $200,000 at which points he hopes to apply for a $50,000 matching grant from the U.S. Tennis Association national.
“They like to be the last source of funding for a new facility,” Fincham said.
Last week, the Board of Education rejected a $551,000 bid to build the courts.
Fincham says that he hopes that when bidding is re-opened by January 2020, a bid more in line with the $250,000 figure will be made and the courts will be built by the summer of 2021.
Fincham says that The Morgan County Tennis Association is a non-profit whose officers are volunteers.