What's really<BR>important for<BR>local tennis?
Is who won the last major tennis championship really that important to you or me? The answer may be ... in comparison to what?
Let's just look at this question in regard to our relationship with the game of tennis.
It's interesting and fun to watch, and to follow what the top pros in the world are up to. It gives us a point of reference to just how good they are and we aren't. But how in our little dream world might we have been able to do that if we'd have set our mind to those accomplishments?
So in the meantime we go out and practice and play and every once in a while hit a shot that just might have won a point against an Agassi or Sampras. Naturally we block out what the final outcome would most definitely produce in a full match.
In our own small corner of the world we are most fortunate to have lots of public courts, many tennis facilities in subdivisions, a college with good tennis courses and programs and one fine private club that has many public events as well as a army of tennis players that have located here from all over the world.
We have a solid local tennis association (PATA) that helps promote tennis for juniors/adults & seniors, sponsor who organize and run events, put out a newsletter with a roster of players, and mainly give tennis players a way to easily meet one another. A voice to be heard when public facilities need attention and future facilities planned.
Hopefully our tennis issues are on the agenda when our city government, school boards and subdivision builders consider recreational amenities and tennis isn't over-looked. We need a balance of programs/public and private, maintenance budgets for each fiscal year for our schools and Parks and Rec tennis facilities, and that tennis players of all ages and abilities have easy methods to enter competitions with leagues and tournaments and playing partners throughout the year.
Is Prescott planning any future tennis facilities? If not, when do those talks begin? Our population has doubled since any new facilities have been built and it doesn't seem to be slowing down. I've been told that the tennis players of the community have to initiate any future tennis plans, so if that's true we'd better get with the program.
The Prescott High School tennis courts on Ruth Street are slowly coming apart. Yet there isn't any money being allocated to take care of this central tennis location that our kids play on and high school PE classes are taught.
Please don't say, the tennis players in the community need to go out and raise $120,000 dollars on our own. This should be a capital expenditure that is factored in after approximately 27 years of use? (That's like asking the school teachers to go out and raise money to build their own schools.)
The Town of Prescott Valley doesn't own one public tennis court, yet they have soccer, basketball, baseball fields, a summer pool, a skate park, volleyball. Are tennis courts on the drawing board in a community that is growing so fast they can hardly keep up? I can only hope so.
Chino Valley built four tennis courts at their high school about five years ago. When will they consider starting a boys and girls tennis team? Who needs to do what to get the ball rolling? The athletic director, the principal, the superintendent, or the parents?
Chino's new 36-acre athletic master plan shown in the Courier last week looks great, but I didn't see any area for tennis that was sketched in. Must have been something that was overlooked. Pool, baseball diamonds, soccer fields, volleyball, picnic areas, racquetball, skate park, playground, but no tennis?
As you might get from the drift of this column there are a lot of wonderful things that are happening in the world of tennis in the Tri-City area, but there are still many things to work on.
Will you take a lead on some of these tennis issues? If someone doesn't, then 10 years from now our cities may be like many others that are now in a very poor state of affairs where the sport of tennis isn't what it could and should be.
I hope the Skate Park in Prescott gets built soon, but not at the expense of having the $55,000 budgeted for the Armory tennis courts possibly being reallocated to that cause.
Maybe the YMCA skate park was closed a little prematurely and should be reopened until enough money is raised for the increased costs for the new skate park.
The bottom line for us is to see tennis continue to be vibrant, especially in the public realm, is to raise these points of contention. Keep the tennis facilities we have in better condition; Allocate money each fiscal year for those needs; Set up tennis programs for youth, adults and seniors; Plan future tennis facilities while those towns/cities are working on community center plans.
(Chris Howard is a local USPTA Tennis Professional with over 30 years in the racquet and fitness industry. He can be reached at 445-1331 or firstname.lastname@example.org)