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Sun, Aug. 18

Tennis Column: If tennis courts could talk, what would they say?

Did you know that the life of an asphalt tennis court is about 20 years?

If that's the case, my tennis facility known as Roughrider, built in 1972, (in human years) makes me about 156 years young.

The two entities that created me, The City of Prescott and Yavapai College with matching funds from the Federal government, did a pretty good job with what they had to work with: $100,000 dollars, a piece of land from old Fort Whipple that one time protected the Territorial Capital of Prescott and now an attached 25-year recreational intergovernmental agreement.

Some things are born: I was scratched out between two small mountains, which make for a pretty nice wind-shielded, central location that can be biked, walked or driven to.

I don't remember the nice gentleman's name that leveled me out with two courts above (5 & 6) and the rest of me on a lower plane (1, 2, 3 and 4). A wash runs down the middle of this flat area and across from me is a parking lot, restrooms and two baseball diamonds.

As a whole they call us Roughrider Park.

The local folk took a real liking to me, in fact they dressed me up with a brick perimeter sidewalk, lights, wind screens and even built a small covered patio/w-closets so they could store equipment and run events.

My court colors were red and green unlike today's green on green.

Yavapai College took things to a whole new level with adding men's and women's tennis teams to their sports agenda.

From 1975 through the early 80s coaches Dave Neuser and Dave Pettingill took the men's team to three state titles and had three top-10 national finishes. Some of you may remember Evan Ragsdale who coached the women's team during that time.

Around 1977-78 the local tennis players decided to form the Yavapai Tennis Association (YTA). People like Stan Preston, Dan Marioni, Myron Snow, Barbara Owen, the Polks, and numerous others took the time and effort to form a board, run the City-County tournament and create a fine, fun tennis atmosphere.

It made me proud.

Then in 1982 part of the bottom fell out, the college discontinued many of their sports and my beloved tennis teams. How could they possibly do that?

Rick Bothell and Fay Matsumoto were doing quite a bit of teaching on me and I was still the hub of tennis, but there was some talk of a new private tennis facility that might be built called the Prescott Racquet Club - and by 1985 it was up and running.

No tennis team, a new tennis club now in operation and the YTA disband - life wasn't what it had been. My courts had cracks, they needed new paint, there were tree roots growing under me and some water went under instead of around my asphalt base.

But then Jim McCasland came to the rescue. The City of Prescott put down a slip-sheet, two inches of new asphalt, paint/lines and I was a good as ever, except there was no one organizing and running programs to give the self worth deserved.

Things looked up again when in 1993, when the newly formed Prescott Area Tennis Association took over where the YTA left off.

Monthly events, the annual County Tournament, drop-in-tennis, players lists formed, leagues, the Prescott Daily Courier allowing a weekly tennis column, college tennis classes and I was back in the tennis business full bore.

Unfortunately, my cracks returned and no one wanted to do the year paint job needed every five to six years.

By 2000, my upper two courts were about to be shut down when my bestest friend ever, George Reynolds, came into my life.

Our love affair started with cracks filled, a volunteer paint job and continued with the Millie Ryan Tennis Trust Fund putting in benches, trash cans, squeegee holders, a wheel chair ramp, landscaping and an expanded tennis patio.

How many small town tennis facilities can boast the likes of famous tennis icons like Billie Jean King, llana Kloss, Norm Chryst, and Dr. Allen Fox hitting and teaching on them? - I can.

Yep, 156 years old, but there's talk of my life being rejuvenated and this time in post-tensioned concrete, wouldn't that be nice.

Until then don't be a stranger - cause, I've never met a tennis player I didn't like, young, old or inbetween.

Chris Howard is a USPTA Tennis Professional with over 35 years in the fitness and tennis industry. He can be reached at 928-642-6775 or choward4541@q.com.

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