The Santa Fe New Mexican
By the first half of 2024, the joint First Serve New Mexico and Forked Lightning Racquet Club should be ready for students and private tennis club members.
The new 8.3-acre campus nestled among the Genoveva Chavez Community Center , Santa Fe County Fairgrounds and Rodeo de Santa Fe fulfills the long-held dream of First Serve founder and President Eleanor Brenner to consolidate her classroom-and-tennis tutoring concept in one location.
Fate brought Brenner together with Texas oil magnate Scott and Kimberley Sheffield , part-time Santa Fe residents who ultimately agreed to pay the full cost of the $12 million First Serve/Forked Lightning complex. They came up with an 8,500-square-foot classroom and clubhouse structure, six indoor courts under an inflatable dome and six outdoor courts along with four pickleball courts.
Soon after the Sheffields bought the property in 2021 and donated it to First Serve, horse and dog enthusiasts disassembled and removed the stables left by the Northern New Mexico Horsemen's Association .
J.M. Evans Construction of Santa Fe is the general contractor now translating Santa Fe -based Riskin Associates Architecture's designs.
"Today was the first day we had machinery on site," J.M. Evans project manager Joel Krypel said Wednesday. "They are starting to clear the site of all the shrubs and trees, etc. There will probably be a month of grading."
That will entail leveling off the property, where one section is 10 feet higher and another section 6 feet lower than the ultimate elevation of the tennis courts and classroom/clubhouse building.
Krypel hopes to pour the concrete for the indoor courts in early November before temperatures fall too much. J.M Evans will then install the forms for the outdoor courts in winter to be ready to pour the post-tension slabs in the spring.
The tennis courts will be on 8-inch-thick concrete to ward off cracking. The acrylic-based hardcourt Plexicushion tennis surface common on professional tennis circuits will be applied at a later date by Mid-American Courtworks of Wichita, Kan.
J.M. Evans will spend the winter first building retaining walls, then establishing the school foundation and installing underground utilities.
"They can work through the winter," Krypel said. "I would anticipate by the end of spring PNM will get us electricity to the site."
All the timelines are dependent on the vagaries of the 2020s with the ever-present worker and material shortages, permitting and weather.
"We're going to try to preorder as much material now," Krypel said. "It was hard to get anybody to truck the weeds away."
After the indoor tennis courts' concrete is set, concrete bond beams that are 2 inches wide, 4 inches tall and 400 feet long will be installed to anchor the inflatable dome that will be installed by Yeadon Domes of Minneapolis , likely in June.
Come April and May and warmer weather, the classroom/clubhouse will go vertical with four months of metal stud framing.
"At the start of fall, we should have the school building shell done," Krypel said. "Next winter, we will finish the interior of the school building/clubhouse."
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