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Tue, Feb. 25

Column: The current state of tennis in the area

How's the game of tennis doing on the local scene in regard to what it has to offer our tennis players on a day-to-day basis?

Here in the Prescott area we're blessed with enough public courts to give our hundreds of weekly player's decent facilities to plan and play in a variety of tennis outlets.

Public facilities include the six Yavapai College courts, the six Prescott High School courts, the four Armory courts, but, sadly, the five tennis courts at Granite Mountain Middle School are no longer playable.

Before the economy went south, the City of Prescott had planned and budgeted to have four new courts built at the new adult center on Rosser Street.

Although the City only owned four courts, it has always played an important part in maintaining and financial help with the PUSD and Yavapai College tennis facilities.

Hopefully that effort will continue, since most of the tennis players who use those courts are Prescott taxpayers.

The town of Prescott Valley provides no tennis facilities for its community, which seems surprising for such a progressive community with a population that rivals Prescott.

The Humboldt Unified School District has six courts at Bradshaw Mountain High School for their school/teams use, of which the Prescott Valley Parks and Recreation Department piggybacks for tennis programs during the summer that high school coach Joe Borzello oversees.

Chino Valley has five tennis courts at its high school, which also doubles in use with basketball hoops, yet with no high school tennis team - yet.

Our local governments should give future consideration to a joint effort in building a 12-16 court tennis complex that would be positioned to serve all three communities.

Many of the tennis players in the Tri-City area enjoy playing together with relatively short drives to local tennis sites. It seems somewhat redundant financially to continue building separate facilities when one larger site would benefit the masses.

The area has gotten better and better in providing tennis programming at our public sites with most instructors certified.

- The Armory has year-round tennis clinics held by Cathy Low and Taylor Harris for adults and juniors.

- Coach Sterling Fetty provides a year-round junior program at the PHS facility and he with other local professionals (Miguel Phelps) put on various clinics and privates.

- Yavapai College has tennis classes each semester, Drop-In Tennis and clinics anyone can jump in on at budget prices.

- Tennis professionals Allison Wood and Bernie Adam are now freelancing at different sites.

- Professionals Binki Thalheimer and Jon Przybyl are at the Prescott Racquet Club with a full array of tennis events.

Is there room for improvement in the local buffet of tennis programs and new ideas? Some suggestions are:

- Each subdivision that has one or more courts could have a local tennis professional they promote to get new or old players into the game with lessons and clinics.

- Each public facility could rotate with a once a month one-day event for all to promote.

- The juniors could have weekly "play groups" involving 10 and under QuickStart to 18-and-under levels playing singles and doubles in fun formats. Right now it seems heavy with clinics and not enough playing time.

- A better effort for after work or weekend "Drop-In tennis/league play" could be worked on for adults and seniors.

- The Prescott Area Tennis Associations web site could become the center for all local tennis players to look for tennis information that's up-dated, vibrant, and easy to interact with.

- More tennis players should consider volunteering to help run different programs or serve on the PATA board or committees. It really doesn't require a lot of time, effort or expertise, just a love to see the game of tennis go on.

- Fun tennis exchanges with different towns and clubs, visits to nearby college matches, pro exhibitions and tournaments would lend to an added dimension for all players.

It seems we are heading in the right direction in taking care of the facilities we have, tennis programming and promotion, using our local pros, tennis association, and especially the people who volunteer in keeping the game of tennis vibrant in our community.

Chris Howard is a local USPTA Tennis Professional with over 35 years in the racquet and fitness industry. He can be reached at 928-642-6775 or

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