Keha McKinney
palmettoreport@gmail.com

Editor’s note: Keha McKinney is related to two of the sources included in this story, including Brevon McKinney (her brother) and Billy McKinney (her father), who are tennis coaches in Fort Mill.

(Fort Mill, S.C.) – After roughly four years of discussion, the town of Fort Mill will finally move forward with plans to repair the tennis courts at the YMCA at the Complex located off of Highway 160.

The six courts at the site, formerly called the Leroy Springs Recreation Complex, have fallen into disrepair in recent years with numerous cracks, as it has been more than a decade since they were last resurfaced.

The town first announced plans to make the repairs in September 2020, but the work has been delayed.

“Quite frankly, it’s about time that they follow through on what they said and fix the courts,” Brevon McKinney, a tennis coach at the YMCA, said. “After going back and forth, we finally get to actually teach on nice looking courts and not worry about anyone getting hurt.”

The town plans to begin the work next year, which will include resurfacing four existing tennis courts, demolishing two others and building four new ones. The courts will remain open to the public.

Over the summer, the Gregory Family YMCA in Lancaster, S.C. made similar repairs to its tennis courts and patrons say they now look as good as new.

“I’m so glad that they finally fixed the courts out here (in Lancaster),” said Jay Bobo, 17, who often plays tennis at the YMCA. “Hopefully the courts in Fort Mill will look this good. I can’t tell you how many times I have tripped over those cracks and skinned my knees and elbows.”

The project is expected to cost about $384,000.

Members of the community have been requesting to have the courts fixed for a number of years, including longtime tennis coach Billy McKinney.

Billy McKinney Serve
Longtime tennis coach Billy McKinney makes a serve at the Gregory Family YMCA in Lancaster, S.C., which made similar repairs to its tennis courts over the summer (photo: Keha McKinney).

McKinney has been a professional tennis instructor for 17 years and he first began teaching tennis in Fort Mill in 2005. He is also the former tennis coach at Nation Ford High School, who once took the boys team to the state finals, and he currently operates the Absolute Tennis Academy, which teaches students from both South Carolina and North Carolina.

In 2017, when there was talk that the Complex may close, due to the age of the then 43-year-old facility, McKinney told the Herald he might move his tennis program to Lancaster, due to the poor condition of the courts in Fort Mill.

“The only hindrance is the current condition of the tennis courts not being able to do league play, tournaments, etc.,” McKinney said at the time.

However, now that the courts will be rebuilt, McKinney plans to continue teaching in Fort Mill, which is good news to his students.

“It’s so nice to hear that Coach Billy will be coming back to Fort Mill,” said Sam Cicciarello, 17, who often plays at the YMCA. “I don’t know about everyone else, but I know I’ve been missing him and his sense of humor.”