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Valley tennis complex may finally come to fruition

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Why did the Valley High School tennis complex cross the road?

There are any number of obvious answers that fit here, but the most relevant response is this:

Because it’s time.

“It’s a must,” Vikings boys coach Juan Martinez said.

Martinez has been beating this drum for nearly a decade, and finally, it looks like all his pleading is about to come to fruition.

Fingers remain crossed.

Construction is expected to begin sometime soon – Martinez hopes – on six new courts at Valley, which are moving from one side of the street on the north side of the campus to the other.

The Vikings have for years been plagued with some of the worst prep tennis facilities in the metro area.

They were crammed into a tight space immediately north of the pool, and slightly north and east of the baseball field.

It’s never been a great place to watch tennis, and it’s not just the courts themselves at issue. Martinez said because the way they were designed, there is space enough for him to coach on only half the courts.

It has never been very spectator friendly, most especially because there are so few quality viewing areas on the north side. On that north end, there is also a pesky ditch that has always been an eyesore – not to mention a borderline health hazard, especially after a batch of rain.

The Legislature allotted about $1.3 million for a couple of major changes at Valley. But they remain in the planning process.

Tennis, baseball – and, oddly enough, soccer – will be the biggest beneficiaries, whenever the work is completed.

The new courts will go up just east of the softball field. Martinez, whose degree is in architectural engineering, is helping to design the complex, and said it’s going through the design phase at Albuquerque Public Schools.

“It’s massive,” Martinez said of the need for an upgrade, “not only for the high school, but the community.”

The proposed courts will be sunk 3 feet, with a two-story building that bisects the six playing surfaces.

The building will include restrooms, storage space, offices, a recreation room and an observation deck. It is hoped that there will be lighting on three of the six courts.

The lights won’t be of much use to Valley’s athletes in season, but should be plenty attractive for the city, which could utilize the courts for nighttime use in the summer.

It is not yet known whether the courts will be ready for the 2014 season; worst-case scenario, Valley may have to live with the existing courts for at least one more spring, Martinez said.

Valley has in recent years been one of the most competitive APS programs. The boys have been state runner-up three times since 2006, and the girls won the Class 5A state title in 2011.

The new courts will go up before the existing courts are demolished, Martinez said, adding that he hopes the new courts will help him recruit players, especially boys. Valley’s boys tennis program, in particular, has struggled with numbers recently.

• As for baseball and soccer, the money would also pay for a new artificial turf outfield for the baseball field, which is desperately in need of an upgrade.

Valley’s outfield grass is, arguably, the worst of any APS field, and perhaps any field in 5A. The infield is artificial.

The turf would extend into the tennis courts after they are removed, and the Vikings’ boys and girls soccer teams would be able to utilize it for home games.

Currently, Valley plays home games at the APS Complex near Volcano Vista.

If and when it is completed, it will be an unusual setup, for sure, and possibly the most unusual architecture you’ll ever see, with a baseball/soccer hybrid that almost defies logic. The soccer field would roughly end (or begin) at center field and be pointed north and east.

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