Trusted local news leader for Prescott area communities since 1882
Fri, Dec. 06

Column: There are ways to make dreams a reality

Abia Judd Elementary School student Taylor Johnson has a dream to become a college, and then professional tennis player.

Billie Jean King had that same dream, and by chance she went by the Prescott High School courts a couple weeks ago and visited with Johnson while she was taking a lesson and they had a chance to talk.

King also started as a junior tennis player, but in Southern California, and ended with 39 major titles in singles, doubles and mixed events before she retired from professional play.

She parlayed her tennis dream into helping women establish equal pay on the women's tour, Title IX, and other notable achievements that continue today.

It's nice to know at Johnson's age that dreams can become viable if you know the path to take, have the support needed and the desire to work hard on a daily basis.

It's not that you're putting all your eggs in one basket, because the things you learn and the person you become while working through one objective at a time, trains you to become fairly well rounded and disciplined in many areas of life.

As long as you see yourself as more than just one dimensional and take the time to imagine all the other routes you could and can take if you want to change paths any derailments won't send you off the deep end in despair.

As a kid, I didn't know that I had the right stuff to play college tennis.

The local tennis pro was more into the parents who had the bucks to give their kids lessons.

The high school I went to didn't have a tennis team until I started it.

I was the coach, fundraiser, driver, team scheduler and a player.

My folks were not tennis players, and while local adults I played with lauded my skills, I didn't get much guidance on the path I might take to achieve becoming a college tennis player.

It never even entered my mind that I was good enough to realize that was a possibility.

Later as I became a tennis professional and played against many successful division 1 college tennis players from a wide variety of schools and won, it hit me... .I could have done that too.

A day late and a dollar short, but having this happen to me opened my eyes to many other possibilities that were available, especially with the students and folks I work with.

In this town alone I've seen the likes of many of our high school players go on to fulfill their dream of playing college tennis.

Players such as Paul Gobel, Trisha Kempton, Sterling Fetty, Corey Bennett, Miles Kreiger, Tobias Campbell and Robert Clark made the leap.

Sadly, many others who could/would have the chance to play at the collegiate level if Yavapai College still had a team.

There's no doubt in my mind, if YC had a team during the past 15 years, our local high school players would have played and had a great chance to go on to the national college playoffs more than a few times.

Many younger kids are now getting the chance to learn the game of tennis through the "Kids and Company" after schools free tennis program offered by the Prescott Area Tennis Association.

Instructors Zac Murray and Evelyn Herrick run this QuickStart tennis program for two hours, twice a week to as many as 60 kids who might normally not get a racquet in their hands until physical education classes in high school.

Who knows what tennis dreams these children might have by the time they reach high school.

They may decide to try out for their high school team. If they're successful enough, college tennis may await.

After that, there's the possibility of a career in the field of tennis.

The worst scenario is they have learned a fun, healthy and social lifetime sport.

And for us adult tennis players who have benefited from the game - help a kid's dream ... .with your time, effort, money, information and encouragement.

The journey for you both will be life altering in so many positive ways.

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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