BAKER CITY'S WIMBLEDON
By Brenna Knowles
For The Observer
If you cant find Borden Granger, try looking for him playing on or pampering his grass tennis courts above Grace Street in Baker City.
Granger and his wife, Sandi, own one of the few grass tennis courts in the country open to public use.
He dedicates a couple of hours to his courts every day trimming, mowing or painting the white lines.
He is spending some extra hours on the courts this week, preparing them for the Pacific Northwest/ Intermountain Seniors Grass Court Doubles Tennis Championships, Aug. 23 to Sept. 3.
Granger said he keeps the creeping bent grass mowed to a height of 5/64ths of an inch, while the low grow rye grass is kept at 5/8ths of an inch. Cleats or shoes with knobs are not allowed on the grass. An automatic sprinkler system keeps the courts a lush, cool green. Granger had no comment on the amount of water he used for the courts.
Green-painted concrete barriers prevent rodents and weeds from invading the green areas, and worms are kept out with a special spray.
It has a similar amount of maintenance to a golf course green, Granger said.
He said his least favorite maintenance job is line-painting. The lines have to be painted every three days, at a cost of $20 per application.
Granger said seniors like playing on a grass court because Its a very unique surface. Its soft, cool, and its the fastest surface for ball speed. For the older folks, its easier on joints and muscles.
Shoes arent required.
Some play in the tournaments in their bare feet. They say they like the feel of it. It stays cool and its like a massage, Granger said.
Compared to clay courts, Granger said, Its a different game. You cant wait for the ball. You have to get right to it.
People can play all night if they wish. The Grangers courts have lights.
In the beginning, eight years ago, Granger said the court area was leveled and a drain field was put in, sand and topsoil were added and a laser was used to level the courts.
We were fortunate to find people willing to help. Sure, they were paid for their work, but they took pleasure in helping out, Granger said.
And the cost? Granger said, Ill never tell. We just built it for people to come up and play.
Phil Brown, tournament director, said Granger has invested tens of thousands of dollars in the courts and that it is special to have grass courts open for free public use. Anywhere else you would pay $50 per hour, Brown said.
The idea for a grass court started when the Grangers and the Browns took a trip to Canada to watch a tennis competition. That is when they fell in love with grass tennis, Granger said.
Granger started playing tennis when he was a sophomore in high school. Then he took a 30-year break. Sandi started a couple of years ago.
Granger said anyone is welcome to come and use the courts.
Our gratification is having people come to the courts and play, Granger said.
For more information about the seniors tournament, call Phil Brown at 523-4446. To play on the Grangers courts, call Borden or Sandi at 523-4934.