Courts You Have to See
In 30-plus years as a high school football coach, Dan Candeloro has a good feel for what makes a great team.
Whether it’s football or tennis, a lot of it stays the same.
“When the kids buy in, work hard and stay together, good things happen,” said Candeloro, the fourth-year head coach of Delaware’s Caesar Rodney (CR) High School girls’ tennis team. “The girls this year set a goal and they were on a mission. Every day at practice they worked hard, with that focus.”
The work paid off, with CR winning the DIAA state title this past spring. It was CR’s fifth overall state title, and the first since 2018.
It’s a long season on the courts, but Candeloro said the team put forth a masterclass in goal-setting and sticking together. Players stepped into new roles when they had to and performed well.
From a coaching perspective, Candeloro said that he relied on the coaches and resources around him to help set the tone for the year.
“That’s all coaching is. Whether it’s football or tennis, it’s about getting all of your resources together and making the best of that,” he said. “These kids have great coaches at Dover Indoor, and I have other people around me who really know tennis. Being a somewhat new tennis coach, I really look to them to help set how we do things. Then in practice I work with them on mental toughness, and getting through the match.”
Heading into the year, Candeloro said the team was excited about what opportunities were out there.
“Overall we felt pretty good about how our last season was, and we thought we’d have a good chance this year,” Candeloro said. “But it’s not that simple — you have to perform and see it through.”
Something that provided a boost to the team heading into the season was the physical state of the tennis courts. Caesar Rodney worked with Keystone Sports Construction (KSC) to resurface the school’s eight-court facility. Based on budgets and timelines, four of the courts were completed heading into the spring season, and the remainder were finished over the summer. As the 2023-24 school year approaches, the courts are now some of the most impressive in the state.
KSC’s Tim Fitzgerald, who grew up playing tennis in Delaware, talked about the importance of a good facility to a high school program.
“You look at a program like Caesar Rodney and it’s really neat to see a successful program get a top-notch facility,” Fitzgerald said. “High school tennis is so important in the Delaware community, and it is great to see the school district invest in their courts. In addition to the other projects we do, these improvements are always fun to see from start to finish because you know how important it is to the school, the players and their families.”
Fitzgerald also mentioned that KSC can be flexible with timelines and work schedules, ensuring that the project finishes in the best possible way for the facility operator. At Caesar Rodney, for example, KSC broke the work up into two budget cycles and worked with the school to find the best construction times.
“That’s the only way it works for us,” he added. “When the work is done, we want people to be proud of what they have and excited about where they play. We work as hard as we can to make sure that’s the case.”
“As far as a public school goes, this is as good as it gets,” Candeloro said. “Keystone did a great job with everything. Every day we go out and can take pride in these courts, and our players are thrilled. Having eight courts, we can keep some extra players and we have lots of options. The facility now is just awesome.”
Keystone Sports Construction
A partner of USTA Middle States throughout 2023, Keystone Sports Construction is helping USTA MS highlight positive tennis stories across the community.
Keystone offers tennis court installation, resurfacing, maintenance and repair throughout the Middle States Section. KSC works with all playing surfaces (private and public) of various sizes.
KSC also works on turf installation and non-tennis venues, including but not limited to football fields and outdoor tracks. You can learn more about KSC at keystonesportsconstruction.com or by scanning the QR code below.