A founder of the Smith Stearns Tennis Academy in Sea Pines says the proposed relocation of tennis courts to nearby Lawton Stables would be a “great” spot for the academy.
“They’ve shown us what their plans are, and it’s very high-level,” Stan Smith told The Island Packet and The Beaufort Gazette in an interview Friday. “We have an opportunity to have a great facility.”
The academy’s potential move to Lawton Stables is tied to whether a referendum to add 90 rooms to The Inn & Club at Harbour Town is approved, according to academy and resort officials.
Steve Birdwell, president of Sea Pines Resort, said last week if the referendum — set for this fall — passes, all but four to six tennis courts would be relocated to make room for the expansion of The Inn & Club.
The remaining courts likely would be moved to the 21-acre Lawton Stables on Greenwood Drive in Sea Pines, though the site has not been finalized, Birdwell said. The courts would take up around seven to eight acres of the property. There currently are 21 courts shared between the tennis academy and the Sea Pines Racquet Club.
Smith on Monday said the academy is planning to relocate 18 courts. On Friday, he said the location designs that he has seen are “pretty soft” and blend into the surrounding area.
Smith said the resort has changed over the past 45 years for the better, and that relocating the tennis academy to Lawton Stables would be another positive change.
“We have an unbelievable owner now who not only said he’s going to do certain things — he does them,” Smith said.
The portion of Lawton Stables that would be used for the tennis academy is not currently in use, Smith said.
In a prepared statement Thursday to the newspapers, Lawton Stables officials said: “Lawton Stables has been in constant communication with Sea Pines as they developed their master plan and are excited for the changes coming to Harbour Town. We are aware Sea Pines has been considering using part of the stables for a tennis facility but have been told that no decision has been made at this time.”
The statement goes on to say that Lawton Stables will continue its normal operations.