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Sun, Dec. 08

Column: Lobbing ideas over the Yavapai tennis courts

This past Tuesday an open meeting was held at the Yavapai College library that 40-plus local tennis enthusiasts attended. YC Athletic Director Scott Farnsworth facilitated it.The topic of discussion was Yavapai College's six-court tennis facility (known as Roughrider Park), how it will be maintained, renovated and managed for future users.Scott started off the discussion with a brief history of the facility, how it came to be built in 1972 with federal funds and a partnership between the City of Prescott and the college. Both parties had a 25-year agreement that ended six years ago.Currently the college has full ownership and management of the tennis courts as well as the college baseball field, while the City of Prescott owns and manages the two Little League/softball diamonds and the restrooms. Both facilities adjoin one-another.The life of an asphalt tennis court is normally 18-20 years. With the help of the City of Prescott, George Reynolds and volunteers, the Millie Ryan Tennis Fund, and Yavapai College, the life of our courts has extended to 36. And while still playable, they need some major help due to yearly cracks that continually open and heaving from soil expansion and tree roots.He went on to say how the facilities department has set aside $50,000 in this year's budget for tennis court maintenance and renovations. So there are a couple questions about what should be done to enhance this well-used community asset.There's no doubt that the cracks need to be fixed right away, that's just a safety issue. But to then go ahead and use a large portion of the money to resurface the courts might be a waste, when we may be able to get matching funds and replace two courts a year (or more) and not end up putting a Band-Aid on a mortal wound.The college plans on applying for a Heritage Fund Grant with the help of the City of Prescott to see if matching funds might be approved for this project.Unfortunately there's no guarantee this money will stay set aside for this project due to the economy. Should the money should be spent while it's still intact, or gamble with the hope and additional timeframe of getting matched funds, a better bang for the buck and the possibility of new courts.Other subjects were broached, such as user fees for the courts, more college tennis classes, an online reservation system or a drop-box honor system (like the national parks use).Many of the folks listening had questions and comments.Some wondered why the courts needed user fees when our tax money should already be budgeted to maintain this unmanned facility. Another about the reservation system was that there wasn't a problem with availability of courts, so if it ain't broke, don't try to fix it. Another said he'd be happy to donate a modest fee each year to help the courts stay in good shape, but worried about money dropped in a box with vandalism, honesty and questioned if that money would go back to help maintain this facility.It seemed everyone agreed the courts need major maintenance attention, but that there was a good balance of college classes, other programs and enough open court time.Several shared thoughts summed up the meeting's mood throughout. Some said that the tennis community and college had a good thing going at the courts that is tough to capture and that it should continue. Others believe that much of this asset couldn't be measured in tangible dollars but that there is a pride in this facility that has developed over the years with the work of many volunteers and players, creating special friendships, spirit and health benefits. And the group as a whole - college, city, local tennis association, students, and community - wish to see this facility thrive and continue, and will work together for that common goal.The wheels are moving and we'll see what's ahead with the grant possibility.(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
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