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Tue, Oct. 15

Good, bad things about local tennis

If you live in Prescott and play tennis, you might have something to add to the few words I've written about the state of tennis within our tri-city boundaries.

What are some of the good things about being a tennis player in our area?

There are many tennis courts to use, both public and private and most of them are in very good condition. It doesn't cost anything to play on the public courts and some of them are even lighted for us so play can continue after the sun goes down.

All of the high schools have tennis facilities for our kids and the public to use. Physical education classes at the high school even teach our kids how to play the game. Prescott and Prescott Valley (Bradshaw) have boys and girls' high school tennis teams; Chino alley may have a team by next year.

Many of our subdivisions have tennis facilities that are well maintained and used. The larger subdivisions have chair people and committees to help oversee these facilities and to plan functions for their use.

The weather is pretty decent year round for outside play.

The Prescott Racquet Club (778-0708) has done a very good job utilizing their seven tennis courts by scheduling leagues, tournaments, round robins and matching players by ability level for open play, as well as providing clinics and lessons for their members the past 16 years.

Yavapai College (778-7071) provides the community with tennis classes throughout the year for all ability levels and keeps up its six lighted courts nicely. These courts are totally utilized by the public with drop-in tennis two to three times a week, a once a month tournament, lessons, clinics, leagues and open play.

The City of Prescott maintains four tennis courts at the Armory on Gurley Street. The courts are a carpet with sand mixed in, which is good for anyone with bad joints, and use is on a first come basis.

The local tennis professionals range from USPTA/USPTR certified instructors to others who assist and give hit sessions. The lesson fees are between $20 to $30 an hour for a private lesson, with clinics near $10 an hour, and the college classes $35 for 30 hours of instruction. Very nominal if you compare prices to most tennis facilities throughout the country. The tennis professionals in this area are up to date, conscientious, fun loving, and work with adults and juniors, and try to have programs for all ages and ability levels.

The Prescott Area Tennis Assoc. has a fine group of people volunteering their time for projects that have made a difference in programs, facilities, leagues, drop-ins, youth and just about every avenue imaginable for tennis. Many people have met through this organization and their newsletters that help with phone numbers and matching ability levels for players to draw from.

The United States Tennis Assoc. (Southwest Section) has been a valuable resource, especially the last six years or so with new programs for adults and youth.

So what's lacking?

Junior programs for kids 5 through 16 need beefed up in a major way.

Better use of the public facilities. The Prescott High School courts, the Armory courts and the Granite Mountain Middle School courts should have tennis programs going on all summer long. The utilization of those facilities is totally lacking, especially during the summer months. The sad thing is that we have enough tennis professionals to run programs and someone needs to take a lead in letting them make a reasonable living and run those courts properly for the public. Prescott Valley and Chino Valley also need to do the same. Better use of facilities, which means more fun and programs for the public.

With this type of set up, the courts are better maintained, they are not vandalized, and there is even the possibility that a few dollars could go back to help when new nets are needed, windscreens, etc.

The subdivisions that have facilities, but don't have a tennis committee to get their players together, should get one organized.

Why spend the money to build a court or two if no one is going to use it, just so someone can perhaps go out and play if they're so moved? A smattering of programs takes little time to put together and realizes many lifelong friendships, competitive matches and a much greater use of what the courts were built for in the first place.

The tri-city area is a great place to live and the tennis is getting better and better by the day. Let's keep it going that way.

(Chris Howard is a local USTPA tennis professional with over 25 years in the fitness industry. Contact him at ckhoward@futureone.com.)

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