Column: Many thanks go out to those who support tennis

Aren't we a lucky bunch (in general) and thankful for all the things tennis has provided us this past year?

The old friends and new acquaintances we encounter and get to know on the courts are competitive, friendly and terrific people. The physical fitness this game offers helps keep us healthy in body, sprit and mind. We feel better, live fuller lives and converse with people from all walks of life. It seems more fun to win, but it really doesn't matter by the next day.

We have very good tennis facilities to play from with a big thanks this year to the Prescott Unified School District and City of Prescott for rebuilding the six courts on Ruth Street for our high school players, physical education classes and the general public to use. The four Armory courts (adjacent to the Grace Sparkes Activity Center) in the past two years were also completely overhauled and look and play great.

George Reynolds and his fearless volunteer crew once again fixed the cracks on the six courts at Yavapai College - known as the Roughrider Tennis Center. Monetary help from the Millie Ryan Tennis Trust has added zest to funding many tennis items that used to almost never get addressed.

And the late Joe Morales is probably looking down from above with a big smile, finally seeing the now six courts at Bradshaw Mountain High School being put in much better playing condition. In many ways, it's a tribute to the time and effort he put in while coaching there.

The private sector seems to be staying up with their tennis facilities as well. The Prescott Racquet Club has dropped a lot of coin maintaining their seven courts; Hidden Valley, Timber Ridge, Haisley, Yavapai Hills and the Ranch are all budgeting and maintaining their courts in a professional manner it seems.

And, there could be more around the corner if we plan and work together regionally on a new public tennis facility (sports complex), centrally located, that would be large enough to run tennis events that are impossible with our current facilities. It will take a concerted effort by all three local Parks and Recreation departments, their town and city councils, as well as help from our County Supervisor Carol Springer.

The pros that teach tennis in the area are the best. Tennis director at PRC, Bernie Adam and his staff, Binki Thalheimer, Sterling Fetty, Gary Amadio, Miguel and Jenny Phelps, Allison Wood, and Kellie Shanahorn all teach with knowledge, enthusiasm and fun.

Others in the area like Nick Cristea, Fay Matsumoto, Cody Williams, Jan Hasse, Ken Jackson, Don Jones, Joe Borzello, Lander Sims and myself, round out a great selection of tennis professionals to help you with the sport from beginner to advanced levels, juniors-adults and senior, hit sessions, lessons, clinics, camps, tournaments and play groups.

Local Parks and Recreation departments seem to be stepping things up in tennis and its programming. Look for both Prescott and Prescott Valley to add a whole new array of tennis events this next year.

The Prescott Area Tennis Association has a new board, with Laurie Lewis and Terri Abady taking the lead positions. A great website (www.pataonline.org) to visit that tells of all programs open to the public to join in, a players list to print out, and tennis tips to read, updated by webmaster Michael Herrick.

We are blessed to have the Prescott Daily Courier give us ample space to promote the game of tennis, that doesn't happen in many newspapers across the country... it is appreciated, and it does make a difference.

For me personally, here in Prescott since 1985, it's been a true rollercoaster ride with tennis and life, this column, promoting the game, playing it, enjoying the company of many of you, raising a family ... then another and grandkids. Planning for today and looking forward to many more tomorrows on and off the court.

Thankful, appreciative and a bit lucky ... "Happy New Year!" and hopefully with yet another prosperous year of tennis - the game we love!

(Chris Howard is a local USPTA Tennis Professional with over 30 years in the racquet and fitness industry. He can be reached at choward4541@peoplepc.com)