By Katie Steiner

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — If you drive down Highway 55 in the heart of Hastings, you might do a double take.

James Sill and Andy Larson play tennis at Roadside Park about three times a week. They don’t want to pay to play, or drive to an indoor court, so they shovel the court off when it snows and just play outside.

“If you think about it, runners run in the winter. You see them doing it. We are just running chasing balls,” Sill said.

And those balls bounce way differently in the winter than they do in the summer. Sill has to warm them up in the oven before they play.

(credit: CBS)

“The magic formula is, I heat up the balls for four minutes at 400 degrees at home, or until my wife says the house starts smelling like tennis balls,” Sill said. “I’ve worked out this temperature for the last two years. Then we put them in this nice little pot, then we put the cover on the pot, put the towel on top, then we take it off and we are good to go for about an hour and a half of playing.”

They play no matter how cold it is. The pair was playing on Tuesday, when it felt like minus-31 degrees.

“One of my very sweet students said that she didn’t want to have to give a eulogy because she thought that I was going to freeze,” Sill said.

But on the #Top10WXDay, it feels like a heat wave.

“It’s 55 degrees warmer than the other day because we’re out here at 24 degrees, so it’s like 50 degrees warmer, so we probably won’t need gloves today,” Sill said.

Katie Steiner

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