Column: Taking care of tennis business
Originally Published: April 30, 2008 2:12 p.m.
Local tennis icon, George Reynolds, is building a new tennis backboard that will be installed at the Prescott High School tennis courts soon. The cost for materials alone will top $400, but the same backboard built and installed by a contractor would total nearly $3,000.Pretty cost effective. And how lucky we are to have George and his volunteers who have saved the city, college, taxpayers and tennis players through years of service nearly $100,000 through resurfacing courts, fixing cracks, adding on to the tennis patio, landscaping, adding a wheel-chair ramp and the list continues.What makes life difficult in the world of tennis locally is that when a facility needs attention, there are little to no funds available for the project. For whatever reason the owners of these tennis facilities don't often factor in a budget to any extent for repairs and upkeep.On the other hand, tennis players are not charged one dime to use the public tennis courts. Maybe that concept should change to help offset the normal maintenance projects necessary on a daily, weekly, monthly and yearly basis.Public golf, softball, soccer, volleyball, swimming, football, baseball, the arts, and most other recreational sports have fees. Teams and players pay to help offset the cost of maintaining facilities and staff. Tennis seems to have gotten a free ride for some reason, and maybe that's why their facilities seem to suffer more in the scheme of things.I can already hear some of you saying, "But we pay taxes to take care of those types of things." And you do, but extra user fees are still necessary to make ends meet in most cases.What if the public courts had a collection slot at the main gates charging $1 per hour of play? (Youth 17 and under would play for free.) This money would benefit the Prescott Area Tennis Association, where a committee would distribute it to help maintain our public tennis facilities."I wouldn't mind a small fee structure as long as the money was spent on tennis," Irene Smith said. Her husband Lennie agreed but had concerns that many would balk because it's been without any fees for so long.Holly Molina had no problem with such a fee, "As long as you could see the upkeep taking place. But if not, no."Diane Brock-Gray suggested a State of Arizona tax credit much like the schools have for their sports programs. "Then people could mark off an amount they'd like to give for their favorite recreational pass time," she said.The amount that might be collected based on normal play at the Armory, Yavapai College and Prescott High School courts could range weekly from $300 to $700, which could equate to an annual average of $20,000 or more - a decent chunk of money.Would an honor system work? Do you have a better suggestion, or should we just keep everything status quo? If you have feedback on this question, let's hear it.(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)