Once again, Xavier Prep is leaving no stone unturned when it comes to upgrading its campus and creating an enjoyable place to be for students, parents, administrators, faculty and others.
There have been numerous construction and renovation projects over the years and the latest, which began toward the end of the 2020-21 school year and is expected to be completed by the end of October, is a combination of both.
The main focus of the attention is the Stark Tennis Center, toward the west side of campus. The six courts have been completely removed, with all new courts taking their place.
|One of the initial parts of the project was to dig up the root system of several large ash trees on the northern edge of the courts (Photos by Sr. Lynn Winsor).|
The Haydon Building Corp. of Phoenix, the Diocese of Phoenix and Xavier Prep are collaborating on the project, which will provide new taller fencing, add lighting to the courts to allow night play and reconfigure the courtyard. Also, the walkways on the east side of the administration building have been replaced after showing some damage or weakness due to the overgrown root systems of a group of large ash trees.
|The poles that will hold up the new higher fencing dwarf the construction workers.|
“They (builders) are doing a great job,’’ said Sr. Lynn Winsor, Xavier’s Vice Principal for Activities and Athletics. “They are turning our ideas into a beautiful back campus.’’
The grassy area of the courtyard will return, with new lighting of its own to allow school meetings and events to be staged in the evenings.
|New lights (pole seen here) will allow tennis matches at night.|
The old ash trees, which had a height of nearly four stories according to Winsor, are being repurposed to create new picnic tables and benches. The old concrete tables/benches had sunk into the ground, creating awkward viewing angles and were cracked and broken.
“By repurposing those ash trees, we will be more eco-friendly,’’ Winsor said.
Although the ash trees have disappeared, there will be about a dozen new trees, called pistache. They are not quite as big as the ash, but still have a height of 25-35 feet at maturity to provide plenty of shade. They grow well in the sun and have green leaves most of the year that in the fall turn to orange and red.
|Damage from the ash trees' root systems led to better safety with a new walkway on the east side of the administration building.|
There will be six-foot walkways around the tennis courts to allow coaches to get close to the action and advise their players in timeouts. Before, they would have to stand on a small incline and clutch the chain-link fence.
A bonus on three of the tennis courts will be markings that allow the booming sport of pickleball to be played.
“We have a lot of people who inquired about pickleball, including many alumnae, and so we’re going to go ahead and provide an opportunity for intramurals and physical education classes,’’ Winsor said. “Pickleball is one of the most popular participatory sports right now and I think we would be one of the first schools to have that. We also expect to have storage areas for tennis and pickleball.’’
As far as the lighting around the courts is concerned, large holes have been dug at various intervals to allow light poles to be installed and properly secured.
The annual freshman tennis season will be starting soon (varsity plays in the spring) and the 90 or so girls who are involved (no cuts) will be practicing and playing their matches at nearby Central High, the Phoenix Country Club and possibly North High as the construction nears completion.
There is another renovation project on the horizon.
Winsor said that a refurbishment of the school’s artificial turf Petznick Field (soccer, softball, lacrosse) will take place in 2022.
The underground support system will not be affected, with the new surface put down where the current one is located. There will be a newer type of cushioning on the artificial turf (coconut-related filler rather than bits of recycled black vehicle tires). And the new Petznick will include new “water cannons’’ to allow the field to be cleaned and allow the athletes to escape hotter conditions.
“Raul Vega (facilities supervisor) has done a great job with the field since it was put in,’’ Winsor said. “They (installers) said the field would have a life of a maximum of nine years and by taking care of it the way Mr. Vega has, we will have made it to 11 years (including the coming school year).’’