Column: Closed PHS campus is good for safety, bad for public use
I have the highest regard for our Prescott school board, our new high school principal, Stephanie Hillig, and athletic director Mark Goligoski. But I was thrown back a bit when I got the email about the six tennis courts being part of a new closed campus.
After talking with Goligoski and school board member Scott Hicks, I learned they also want to work as closely as possible with the community to achieve the goal of making this facility available as much as possible to the public for play.
School Superintendent Dave Smucker said, "The school board just might talk about this issue more if a proposal were worked out that keeps the campus closed and kids safe - work with Mark (Goligoski) and see what you can come up with that could be presented at the next meeting if that time frame works."
Currently the Prescott High School courts are not available for use during school hours, which has pushed many players to sites that are already filled with matches in the mornings. And when the high school PE classes use the tennis facility players know what those times are and schedule around them.
Up to this point we've had a really good thing going on with local tennis professional Sterling Fetty, who hangs his hat at this site. He also happens to coach the boys and girls PHS tennis teams and runs his daily Prescott Junior Tennis Academy there. Sterling has worked well with balancing his programs around the physical education tennis classes and helped use this centrally located facility in a manner that keeps our youngsters learning skills that didn't happen much in years gone by.
In the past - and I believe even presently - this facility has been co-managed by PHS and the City of Prescott. A few years ago the Prescott Area Tennis Association raised the money, with the help of former AD Wayne Howell, and built a tennis shed/pro shop for the good of the community to hopefully have a tennis professional get situated in - and that has happened.
The PHS courts were rebuilt about seven years ago, and the school/tennis community has used this area with renewed vigor under this new organized setup.
Between the use of the courts with PHS tennis classes, boys and girls tennis teams, the Academy and community, this expensive facility is really getting used to its best advantage.
With Sterling at the courts a high percentage of each day, plus the high school instructors and the community tennis players, these six courts have been much less prone to vandalism and misuse. All of these people are security to the school and this facility. They don't let things take place that aren't supposed to. They care and it's made a big difference from what the past has held at this very site.
The Yavapai College tennis facility had the same situation years ago.
The courts were not very well taken care of, they were vandalized and misused, and then the local tennis players built a tennis shed, put a pro in place and the entire facility came back to life in a very positive manner and has continued in that vein. Fortunately the courts have never had to be locked up.
Since the school board has campus safety issues, a small fence that would cost very little could be constructed from the Ruth Street perimeter fence to the back tennis fence. This would block the tennis courts from the rest of the campus except for a gate that could be unlocked for PE classes. This would allow the community to still utilize this fine facility that taxpayer dollars built and maintain.
I hope this issue is revisited. Just maybe we can compromise in a manner that works best for all involved, including PHS and the Prescott-area tennis players.
It seems we all want the same thing: a safe school and full use of the tennis facility.
Chris Howard is a local USPTA Tennis Professional with over 40 years in the racquet and fitness industry. He can be reached at 928-642-6775 or firstname.lastname@example.org.