You know how you are when you are going to invite someone or a group over to your home, you fret on making sure everything is cleaned up, nicely decorated, and in general, looking good?
That's how I want to feel when we invite tennis players from outside our city to come play tennis here at our public facilities. A place where we can be proud to showcase not only our local tennis talent, but also the sites where we congregate.
Our high school tennis teams are doing great, we have started up more USA tennis leagues in the Prescott area in the past two years than any other Arizona city (this program will continue to expand), and more and more people are moving into the tri-city area who are accustomed to having decent facilities to use. Add in that our Yavapai College tennis programs are over-flowing in class sizes and times and you can see that tennis in Prescott is at an all time high.
Last Sunday, players from Flagstaff and Sedona came to Prescott to play in a 4.5 men's league. We played at the Roughrider Tennis Center (Yavapai College) where there are six courts, but only four are in good enough shape to play tournament competition, the upper two courts need resurfaced badly.
The grass was over-grown, water faucets leaking, trash strewn around the courts, some dangerous cracks need filled and painted again, the surrounding common area is rather unsightly, and the viewing could be much improved, but it's the best we currently have. The lights are decent, it's a great central location, the wind isn't a factor very often, and there are year-round open restrooms that are kept clean and serviced.
The other public courts have problems that make it even less conducive to do these types of events at.
The Armory courts are a surface that most tournaments are not played on, but great for bad knees and hips and low maintenance. It's noisy, if a ball is hit outside the fence, you might as well say bye-bye to it with all the traffic, parking can be tough, and the courts are situated too close together for sanctioned tournament competition.
The high school courts need the cracks filled and resurfaced, but the worst problem is the wind. Most afternoons, the wind is unbearable. The restrooms are scary, and some of the lights need replaced. Still it would behoove us to keep them up and place a tennis instructor at both the high school and Armory to run programs and really utilize what we have.
The Abia Judd tennis courts on Williamson Valley Road are in a shambles and I don't even consider them playable. That's not to mention the harsh wind most days, it makes the high school courts seem like playing at Wimbledon. Placing the courts on a plateau wasn't a very good idea. Make this site into a roller hockey area for youth – I'm serious.
We have the opportunity to get matching funds, up to $2,500, to help resurface local public courts, through a program the United States Tennis Association has implemented.
The requirements are that the public has access, that local entities are willing to come up with the other half and that some sort of deal can be made with the company (hopefully local as well) that will do the work.
It seems that we may have the hardest part put together, the matching funds. Yavapai College, the City of Prescott, and the Prescott Area Tennis Association will come up with a third each of the first $2,500. Letters agreeing to their share will be sent along with the grant papers. Bids will be put together to have the work done on the two upper courts at Roughrider and the cracks filled on the lower four, and then the grant completed and sent to the USTA Southwest Section. With their consent, it will then be forwarded to the national office and most likely processed.
The time frame, probably three or four months.
If that doesn't work, then maybe we can raise the balance ourselves. The bottom line is that it needs to be done.
It seems to me all of our other ball fields, golf courses and gyms are taken care of and planned for, our tennis facilities shouldn't be any different. Because many of them are shared entities, no one wants to make the commitment needed.
Let's not be embarrassed anymore; if we're going to have public tennis facilities, let's keep them in a manner that we all can be proud of.
(Chris Howard is a local USTPA tennis professional with over 25 years in the fitness industry).