Each year the Prescott Area Tennis Association (PATA) has a meeting to decide how they're doing and in what direction they want to go in their goals toward reaching out and promoting the growth of tennis in the Prescott area for the next 12 months.
Since the late 1970s when the Yavapai Tennis Association was formed and then reorganized in the early 90's as the PATA, tennis has been better united for the public in many ways.
In today's world of the computer age, there's a web site they maintain (prescotttennis.com) that anyone can access and find out the "who, what, where, and when's" of how to get involved in tennis in the area.
Also included are lists of players with abilities and phone numbers, men's and women's ladders to join, activities that are open to the public-clinics, tournaments, weekly Drop-In-Tennis-tennis facilities to use and professional instruction information for and at those sites as well as other links to tennis that are helpful.
You can also sign up for the PATA on-line, which offers these services free of charge with no dues to pay, which is pretty unusual for most associations.
Over and beyond the web site, the PATA organizes and run's the Annual Yavapai County Tennis Tournament each October that happens to be the way it raises money to stay solvent while helping to maintain public tennis facilities and other special tennis projects in the community.
This year the board of directors headed by Terri Abady decided to add to their list of worthy tennis projects in a couple ways.
One was to purchase plastic "flyer/brochure holders" and attach them near the entrance gates at each public tennis facility.
Now, anyone who wasn't aware of what was going on each month can easily grab a flyer and put it on their fridge as a reminder. Going to the web site works too.
The other major project was to partner with the Prescott Unified School District and run a free tennis clinic twice a week called Quickstart Tennis for their summer and school year child-care program called Kids & Company.
This particular program has taken about 5 months to pull together with getting instructors gathered (mainly volunteers) and trained, a couple main sponsors (Barbara Brisino/Nannette Oately/and a USTA grant), insurance through the United States Tennis Association, and equipment purchased with funds from the Millie Ryan Trust Fund.
The 60-plus kids it will directly involve are between the ages of 5 and 12, with most of their parents working full to part-time.
If you've ever been in that type of situation as a parent, you hate the fact you can't be with your child more-especially during the summer, and certainly you want them in an environment that is safe and happy while learning different things and enjoying their time there.
Many of these parents are stretched to afford childcare, and thus the PATA felt giving these kids a couple hours of tennis a week would be a real benefit.
The main goals are to hear these kids laugh and have fun, help get them some extra exercise, learn a life-time sport, etiquette, hand-eye coordination and solid self esteem in positive feedback
After the first week of clinics, that's happening.
Nicole McNally, the childcare director for Kids & Company said, "The kids are having a great time and look forward to the hour of tennis on Mondays and Tuesdays."
"Even more-so, the parents are thrilled their kids are getting an opportunity to learn the game of tennis in this setting and without any additional charges," she added.
If any high school or adult tennis enthusiasts would like volunteer an hour of time each week in helping this program be the best it can be, please contact me at 928-642-6775.
It takes place during the summer at Miller Valley Elementary School off of Iron Springs Road, Mondays and Tuesdays from 10 a.m. to 11 a.m. in their air-conditioned gym and your help would be very much appreciated.
There's no doubt in my mind that the people who help with these type of programs receive as much joy as the kids they are helping...and it does make a positive difference in their lives; and every so often it goes well beyond that, it did for me.
-- 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