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A New Playground

When Carl Bielski told his wife about his plans to build a tennis court in their backyard, she immediately did a double-take.

“She said, ‘You’ve got to be kidding me,’” he recalled.

Then she paused.

“‘Think you could do it?’”

Today, the court in their yard answers that question.

A New Jersey native, Bielski got the idea from Middle States Hall of Famer Marty Devlin, who also had a court in his yard. Bielski had never thought of it before, but began considering it.

 

“It just started with an idea, and the next thing you know I rented a Bobcat, ripped the turf off and started to move the soil,” he said. “I was in bed that night and thought, ‘I should be sent to an asylum or something. I just destroyed a perfect yard.’”

“I guess I just got tired of cutting the grass.”

A few weeks later, that worry was gone and the court was making progress. Bielski got help from a talented builder (his father), and when issues with the construction began, he came up with a format for approaching each day.

“I applied the progression from tennis to finishing the court,” he said. “It’s like a five-match set in 100-degree weather, and you just can’t quit.”

The actual time it took to build the court took much longer than a tennis match. Bielski estimates he put in about three straight months with 40 hours per week into the clay court, adding up to approximately 500 hours. Once the court was done, he had extra projects to make the rest of the yard fit the court. A few years later, he couldn’t be happier with how it turned out. After all the work, the court today is popular with his friends and always seems to buzz with action.

“They don’t want to go anywhere else,” he said. Bielski doesn’t mind. “I can’t have the court empty, or my wife will want to put grass on it again,” he laughed.

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