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Lebanon's Optimist Park set for tennis court makeover

The white lines on a faded green surface have held up fairly well over the years, but the nets, on the other hand, have seen better days.

LEBANON, Pa. — Ever wonder where gambling revenue in the state goes? Well, some of it is being used for a park in Lebanon County.

Thanks to a $110,000 Local Share Account grant from the Pa. Department of Community and Economic Development, Lebanon's Optimist Park is set for an upgrade.

The white lines on a faded green surface have held up fairly well over the years, but the nets, on the other hand, have seen better days. 

Pretty soon, a new era lies ahead for the park

"We received two state grants, together with some private fundraising, that's going to allow us to completely resurface these courts," said Jeff Robbins, the co-founder of the Lebanon Valley Community Tennis Association.

"We're hoping to begin that work in the fall and complete it this fall. So, next summer, we'll be able to roll it out and use it for our instruction," he continued.

The four courts at Optimist Park serve as the home base of the Lebanon Valley Community Tennis Association. Co-founded by Robbins, who happens to be the tennis coach at Lebanon Valley College, the program provides kids an opportunity in a safe space to grow through tennis.

"When we're out here we hear from parents [and] kids [about] how much they love the sport. Adding this as an element for the day camps that are in the area. We give out sort of free tennis rackets [and] kids began to go home and talk to their families about how they're their favorite sport is tennis. So that's been fantastic," he told FOX43.

The courts won't just be resurfaced with new nets. The design and layout change will allow more instruction and also welcome new players to the fold.

Half of a former court will be dedicated to youth instruction, while the other half will be replaced by two dedicated pickleball courts.

The remaining three full-size tennis courts will be relined to accommodate pickleball players as well as tennis players.

It's a big step forward for the community, according to Robbins.

"We'll have three tennis courts, two dedicated pickleball courts, and we're also going to reline the courts so that you have pickleball opportunities even more than those two [courts]. Right now, there's not much capacity in the Lebanon area [for pickleball]. So having that, people have been really positive. They can't wait for it to be completed," said Robbins. 

The grand plan though, is to take these outdoor courts and make them playable all year round.

"Lebanon County is the only county that doesn't have dedicated indoor tennis courts. So ultimately, what we'd like to do is to build in the capacity to make this covered, maybe like a sports bubble or a permanent indoor facility," he continued.

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