After writing a weekly column for almost 19 years here at the Courier, I guess I'm qualified to call myself a sports writer. Maybe not in the professional sense where one normally has a background and degree in journalism, but in coming up with different ideas of interest that have been intriguing enough to create a readership.
It probably hasn't hurt that the cost of this column hasn't been an economic burden to the paper, even though the words have been somewhat priceless. (That's suppose to be funny.)
No doubt on occasion a few feathers have been ruffled, intentionally or not - but the ideas and stories written have been out of passion for the sport of tennis and the greater Prescott area, not with and for malice or personal gain.
When a word, sentence or paragraph has been problematic there have been four different sports editors and their assistants over the years to help make my writing skills read better, and that's been a true blessing.
It's unusual for a newspaper to have a column that's written primarily about the game of tennis and there have been more than a few people in the community that think the coverage should have been more in the realm of softball, especially since Prescott's titled the, "Softball Capital of the World."
But I've been appreciative that the nod of approval has let this column go forward and believe the tennis community has seen its benefits.
From local, state, national and world angles, together we've covered a lot of ground, not just the normal Associated Press stuff all papers clip and paste. And every now and then our very own stories have been taken for a ride - and that's fun to have happen.
It doesn't hurt to have the likes of Billie Jean King come to town with her parents and now mother and brother living here; the Indian Well's Masters within a 4 hour drive; the now defunct Scottsdale Princess pro tourney for men and women that went on for a multitude of years; the Outback (old guys) event in Surprise; and visit's from Allen Fox, Ilana Kloss, and a multitude of other famous players, coaches and tennis industry folk.
The tournaments, clinics, playing groups and special events have been much stronger in participation due to the coverage afforded, our tennis players in general - more in touch and knowledgeable than they might have been without this avenue of written information it seems.
The legacy of tennis in our area rivals many of the events and people that Prescott prides itself on, like the Rodeo, A.C. Williams (Mr. Softball), Whiskey Row, Sharlot Hall (Museum), and places that touted tennis in the early days: Iron Springs, the Hassayampa Country Club, and the Armory courts (tennis sites from the early 1900s to present).
Players like Paul Gobel, Trisha Kempton, the Howell sisters, Sterling Fetty, Cory Bennett; Coaches Rick Bothell, Ester Brown, Dan Marioni, Dave Pettengale; many high school team championships and a Yavapai College National men's team.
Columns on instruction, bio's, rules, strategy, facilities, business, equipment, health benefits, experiences, tournaments, kids, adults, seniors and super seniors, etc., the stories, thoughts and slant all make for a short decent read most of the time.
Your faithfulness in reading this column, commenting and making suggestions has and is what keeps me plugging week after week.
Thanks for the first 19 years and here's to the next 21!