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11:36 AM Mon, Nov. 12th

Predictions for 2006 and beyond

It's a new year and hopefully a good one at that for what tennis will be in Prescott, Prescott Valley and Chino Valley in 2006.

Last year was pretty super for our area in tennis. The Yavapai College/Roughrider Tennis facility got a new facelift through the Millie Ryan Tennis Fund, George Reynolds, volunteers and the help of Yavapai College.

There was more junior tennis involvement than maybe since the tennis boom of the 70's. The Prescott Racquet Club was purchased and renovated by Steve Waples, and Bernie Adam and has set up a solid tennis program.

Under the direction of Orlo Jantz, the Prescott Area Tennis Association made great strides in many ways. The Prescott Parks and Recreation Department resurfaced two of the Old Armory tennis courts. And near the end of the year, the Prescott Unified School District made a commitment to try and get the six tennis courts on Ruth Street back in decent playing condition and hopefully will follow through with what it takes to do that.

Here are some predictions that I have made for the upcoming year (or two) that just may continue to help put tennis on the map for our Tri-City area.

1. The other two courts at the Armory will be resurfaced and a tennis shed built to house a pro.

The City of Prescott will take it all one step further and hire a tennis professional to manage and program the four Armory courts, the six-court Prescott High School facility and help plan a new tennis complex to be built at Pioneer Park or the old Fair Grounds.

2. The five tennis courts on Williamson Valley Road (Granite Mt. Middle School) will be made into an inline skating hockey park for kids. It's just too windy there to really play any tennis most of the time.

3. Prescott Valley will commit to building a new public tennis facility, with eight courts built into the ground that will negate their windy conditions. They will also co-partner the two former basketball courts at the high school and finish them off to make six good tennis courts for Bradshaw Mountains tennis teams and adult/youth programs. (Can you see Joe Morales smiling?)

4. Chino Valley High School will finally put together a boys and girls tennis team. Hint, hint.

5. Both Chino Valley and Prescott Valley are ripe for new racquet/athletic-swim clubs, and that could and should happen in the near future, maybe in conjunction with subdivisions.

6. Billie Jean King will decide to buy a house here and train the women's Fed Cup team at the perfect altitude. (Bill, will you talk to your daughter please?)

7. Lleyton Howard will enter a 6-and-under tennis division tournament and bring home his first trophy. He's still only 4, but he's getting good fast.

8. Miguel Phelps will win his first gold ball (national). Of course he just might need me as his doubles partner.

9. Bernie Adam will have both knees replaced and become the top player in the Southwest by the time he reaches the 55's division.

10. Miles Kreiger will get real serious about his tennis and win the State high school tennis championship, which no male player from Prescott has ever done. (Do you hear that Miles?)

Julianne Cananea could just do the same thing for Bradshaw, but she'd have to become much more focused on her tennis.

11. The Mile High City will not only be touted as the "Softball Capital of the World", but also the small-city "Tennis Capital of the World", with all it has to offer its residents in programs, leagues, tournaments and thousands of players of all abilities lined up for open court time.

12. The United States Tennis Association will use Prescott as a model and example for other cities to follow, in terms of how tennis can benefit a community ­ people's health, social life, fitness, and affordability for all ages, kids to seniors.

(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 choward4541@peoplepc.com)