Column: On the lookout for tennis vandals
Last week's column mentioned how thankful the tennis players in the area (and myself) are to have the public and private tennis courts we have, and the great expense it takes to put these in and maintain them. Hard-earned taxpayer dollars for our public tennis facilities at work.
Each court built in today's dollars equals approximately $50,000 and that doesn't include prep work, lights, monthly maintenance and resurfacing the courts every five or six years which comes to about $4,000 per court.
In the past week I have heard some horror stories, and been involved with one myself.
There are signs posted on the entrance gates at Yavapai College, the Armory and the Prescott High School tennis courts that say the facility is to be only used for tennis. No skateboards, soccer, baseball, or shoes that could scrape or mar the surface. No ifs, ands or buts.
Unfortunately there are people who don't read these signs, or just decide to ignore them and do as they please.
The worst report was when we had our last rain and the fields around the PHS courts were muddy. A young man and his female friend were driving golf balls off the surface of the newly built courts. And yes, there are a multitude of divots where the green surface is no longer there. Isn't that criminal damage?
A soccer father and his team during that same time period went inside the courts at PHS and held practice, some with rubber cleats.
Nets have been found cranked down where skaters - despite Prescott's new skate park - have taken over the courts after school and on weekends.
Soccer players seem to have no reason to think that using the courts as a field and fences to stop hard goal kicks don't hurt things or do any damage. What they don't see are the fences all bent out of shape and the posts holding the fencing up losing their attach wires due to the applied pressure. Not to mention that a tennis net isn't designed to stop the weight of a soccer ball repeatedly.
During the holiday break I found three teenage skateboarders riding, jumping nets, using the Millie Ryan-donated benches to glide up and off of and then skidding to a stop without any thought of care or wrongdoing.
When I politely went up and told them they weren't allowed to use the courts for skating, they questioned my authority, called me every name in the book and continued to jump on the benches, and skid to a hard stop right in front of me.
If using a pleasant voice doesn't seem to send the message, or you're driving by the courts and see unwarranted use, please pull over and make a quick call on your cell phone to one of the following numbers.
*The Prescott Police Department: 445-3131 (non-emergency number.)
*Prescott High School during school hours: 445-2359 (ask for security.)
*Yavapai College: 445-7300 ext. 1. (Security)
Our tennis "Block Watch" needs to get better, so please do your part to help others get the point. And you non-tennis players, just take up the game and we'll all be on the same page.
(Chris Howard is a local USPTA Tennis Professional with over 30 years in the racquet and fitness industry. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org)
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