Column: Prescott is a tennis town
Name a place that has all of this for a tennis player:
the opportunity to get involved at almost every level;
an abundance of decent courts to play at little to no cost;
four seasons - yet still mild enough to play year-round outdoors;
at least two tournaments a month for all levels of play;
drop-in tennis twice a week that's open to the public;
a variety of informal as well as more competitive USTA leagues to jump in;
a great tennis association (Prescott Area Tennis Association);
high school teams for boys and girls;
a college that offers tennis classes at very affordable price;
a multitude of subdivisions that have from one to four courts with weekly play for their homeowners and guests;
a private club that is also affordable that offers a wide variety of programs for all ages and abilities;
many certified tennis professionals that offer instruction at nominal rates for private, group and open clinics;
(and a newspaper that offers a weekly tennis column).
With all of these, Prescott, Ariz. and the surrounding area is certainly becoming a tennis player's paradise.
The public facilities are in pretty good shape. In the past few years the four sand/synthetic courts at the Armory have been upgraded with new carpet and fences; the six lighted Yavapai College courts have been resurfaced and cracks filled; the six courts at Prescott High School are excellent and the six courts at Bradshaw Mountain High School are in good shape as well.
We were supposed to have another four courts built at the new Adult Center off Rosser Extension a couple years ago, but that's been put on the back burner for now due to the economy and very tight budgets.
Could we use an additional public tennis center? It would probably make more sense to have it be a regional facility to share costs, but yes we could. A 12-court complex would give our area the option of running some State/sectional/college events that just can't be done easily with the way our current courts are set up. That's a futuristic dream that needs to be put on a short-list when things get better.
In the mean time we need to continue to maintain and budget for the courts we have and make sure each facility has complete tennis programming.
It wouldn't take much in expense to build a tennis shed at the Armory courts where a pro and instructors could keep their equipment and create a better atmosphere for that site. It's been done at Prescott High School and Yavapai College successfully, so it's an idea to kick around and maybe plan for.
Having courts where there is no pro, little programming and just open court time isn't effective management of that facility when it could be so much more. And on that note, there are a few sub-divisions that might do similar concepts and breath a little life into their own list of tennis players.
Currently there are some after-school tennis programs that are being developed that will give many single-parent kids a chance to play the game of tennis once a week during the school year.
Another program that's being worked on is a website that will offer three or four on-line singles compass tournaments for different ability levels each year that will get many players together - another avenue of tennis to pursue that's locally untapped.
As the baby-boomers look for a place to retire, many of the tennis players are sizing up Prescott as a place that will give them many years of enjoyment in a town that's becoming a Mecca for the sport they love. It's a group of people we want in our community and we're making sure we're ready for them.
(Chris Howard is a local USPTA Tennis Professional with over 35 years in the racquet and fitness industry. He can be reached at 928-445-1331 or firstname.lastname@example.org)