Finally, a home-court advantage: Destin Middle gets its own tennis courts
For the first time in the school’s 25 years, Destin’s tennis home games will really be home games.
No more getting on the bus and going across the bay for practices and home games. Destin Middle now has four new tennis courts along with a couple of pickleball courts.
"It means everything,” said Brett Chipser, Destin tennis coach.
“We’ve been trying to do this for 2 ½ years and it’s finally come to fruition. I’m so glad to be able to have some home matches on our own turf,” Chipser said.
As for the pickleball, they are hoping to start up pickleball teams in the near future.
More:Destin Marlins win Okaloosa County middle school boys soccer championship
More:Lady Marlins fall to Bruner Spartans in championship game
“I think this year, it will be more of a PE and getting used to it and getting the kids involved,” Chipser said.
But tennis is in full swing. Last week, Chipser had 62 students come out for tryouts.
"That’s the most ever, which was fabulous to have that many interested and involved. I wish I could have taken them all,” he said.
The Destin boys team will have nine players and the girls 10. Players selected to the boys team include Josh Gross, Will Horin, Henry Frankfurt, William Cowles, Caleb Kimberly, Luke Christen, Brady Fajardio, Kellan Evan and Dominik Derose. Girls who made the team include Kinley Driver, Aspen Baker, Luci Frankfurt, Paige Norris, Victoria Escamila, Ava Botros, Peyton McClusky, Caroline McClusky, Emily Calogero and Natalia Grzebieluch.
Why the big turnout?
“I think not having to go across the bridge or another facility is what did it,” he said.
Also being on campus and seeing the courts being built factored into the big draw, he said.
“As they realized what it was, more and more got excited. It stirred a lot of attention,” Chipser said.
Chipser also gave a lot of credit to local businessman Brett Driver for getting the courts done for this season.
“He got a lot of issues resolved and pushed deadlines,” Chipser said.
Destin Middle School Athletic Director Ron Griffiths said they found out about this time last year that they would be in line to get new tennis courts, as part of the half-cent sales tax incentive. Construction began in late summer 2022 and the students were on them last week for tryouts.
“They are nice,” Griffiths said.
Griffiths said he talked with some of the students and they really like them.
"I think more than anything … a lot of the kids who have been part of the tennis program are excited about just having a home court and not having to travel for practice and travel for home matches. It’s just going to be really nice,” Griffiths said.
In the early days of the tennis program at Destin Middle, Destin played its home matches across town at Sandpiper Cove on Holiday Isle. However, for the past four or five years, Destin has practiced and played its home matches at Bluewater Bay across the Mid-Bay Bridge.
But no more travel, except for away games.
As for the four home courts, Chipser said, "They look good and play good. ... It's nice to get out there and play on them."
Destin tennis, which finished second in the county last year, will host Pryor Middle for its first home match on March 13.