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Tue, Nov. 12

Column: Issuing a tennis challenge

Sometimes we buy things that hardly get used. It seemed like a good idea at the time, but there it sits, collecting dust.Things like motorcycles, boats, an extra car, RV, motor-home, more house than we needed, a hot tub, pool table ... the list is endless.Cities, towns and subdivisions do the same thing.To help sell a subdivision, you might have a nice clubhouse with tennis courts, pool, weight and aerobics rooms, volleyball court, racquetball, etc. It's very nice for the homeowners if it's used and maintained properly.Cities, towns, counties, schools and some large companies develop parks, ball fields, gyms, pools, trails, bike paths, adult centers, skate parks, tennis facilities, etc., organized with programs to enhance each community with a better quality of life.It's expensive and much of it takes a lot of time and manpower to maintain properly.My expertise is tennis, so when I visit a subdivision with courts that aren't used and in disrepair I wonder why. When I see public tennis facilities (cities/towns and schools) with little or no up-keep and programming, I become disturbed and somewhat sad.The questions that go through my head are: Why was it built in the first place? Was there no forethought for programs and what it would cost to maintain?Good programming promotes people to use an expensive facility, have fun, get good exercise, meet new friends and certainly enjoy some healthy competition. This takes a good organizer with fresh ideas that are planned and then carried out, seasonally or on a year-round basis. This might be an on-site tennis professional, tennis chair/committee, or volunteer group like the Prescott Area Tennis Association.After a new tennis facility is built - be it one court, four, six or more - ongoing maintenance is critical, from trash responsibilities to court cleaning and resurfacing to adding tennis sheds and more.Is there an annual budget that's taken into account the costs that will occur? Is there a budget for a tennis professional or even a contract that allows an organizer to program tennis in a fair and equitable manner within parameters set by the owners of that facility?Subdivision board members need to create tennis committees to reach out to homeowners with viable tennis programs that will complement the provided facilities. Cities, towns and schools need to do the same. It's not enough to build expensive facilities and it's a crime to let them sit without an array of decent programs for public open play.Crisis management of waiting until someone gets hurt playing on courts with cracks or nets that are in tatters, is not only shameful but also negligent, if for no other reason than community pride, let alone possible lawsuits.And we have a lot going for us here in the Prescott area, yet I could name many public and private tennis facilities with courts in major disrepair with little or no tennis programming.I challenge the owners of tennis courts in the area to promote what they have, to program and maintain their expensive facilities, public and private. If you need help in creating a plan of action feel free to contact me (445-1331), or the Prescott Area Tennis Association (www.pataonline.org).(Chris Howard is a local USPTA Tennis Professional with more than 30 years in the racquet and fitness industry. He can be reached at 928-445-1331 or choward4541@peoplepc.com)
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