Trusted local news leader for Prescott area communities since 1882
Mon, Nov. 18

Column: Productive year for tennis, promising '14

Forty years ago the City of Prescott and Yavapai College blessed the area's tennis players with six new lighted courts at the Roughrider Tennis Center on the college campus. It was an exciting time in 1974 and lots of things were starting to take place in the Mile-High City. At that time the population base was around 14,000 people, and Prescott Valley and Chino Valley were but a blip on the map.

The Central Highlands, or tri-city area, now make up around 120,000 people. And although many things have changed, the atmosphere of "Everybody's Hometown" has prevailed, and Prescott Valley is now competing at all levels with Prescott. Chino Valley also.

With it being Christmas Eve, I can't help but be thankful for all that has taken place this past year with regard to our tennis players (present, past and future). We've all pretty much come together to help donate money for the rebuild of the college's tennis facility, which will begin construction in early 2014. When complete it will be a well-lighted (post-tensioned concrete) seven-court complex, with fenced court dividers, regulation width, on three levels, plus new landscaping and design features that will be a new gem for all of Northern Arizona to use and brag about.

Our $200,000 fund-raising goal is currently near the $118,000 mark (hard donations and pledges) and we hope before the end of the year to obtain more donations and meet our year-end goal of $130,000.

Prescott Area Tennis Association volunteer Fundraising chair Karen Spear, with her committee, has been working diligently. Most recently she just submitted a grant to the United States Tennis Association for funds it makes available for this type of project. She and the Yavapai College Foundation staff also are working with City Council members in hopes that some recreational impact fees will be used to help with the expansion of this facility, which is frequented much more by Prescott residents than college students.

Any player who has enjoyed tennis in Prescott over the years hopefully will find it in their hearts and budgets to send a tax deductible donation made out to: Yavapai College Foundation, 1100 Sheldon Street, Prescott, AZ 86301, Attention: Tennis Courts Project.

During the four or five months the courts at the college are being rebuilt it will take a toll on places for players to schedule their games. Certainly the Armory and Prescott High School courts will be sought out. The former Prescott Racquet Club, now renamed the Prescott Athletic & Tennis Club, will be open for tennis and club use that will help our court-challenged players during this time. A five-month membership will be offered there soon and may be a good alternative for making sure you have a place to play. I will be teaching and running programs there during that time period as well.

It's been a good year with our PATA board doing lots of fun and neat things.

The sanctioned Mile-High Tournament was put on by the PATA, and all of the money raised went to the Hotshot families. The Yavapai County Tournament went off with decent numbers participating. Many USTA League participants and teams have made Prescott a contender in winning a fair share of Northern Arizona titles and making their way to sectionals on a regular basis. It won't be long until we have teams in contention for nationals.

On that note, local USPTA Tennis Professional Sterling Fetty took a group of juniors to nationals in an 18 & Under Mixed event where they didn't win, but had the experience of a lifetime.

Our high school teams will be revving up again soon and we all look forward to the younger folks in the game and how we need to support them in every way possible. School tax credits (before the end of the year) going toward the tennis programs would be nice. Contact the schools for more information.

With Dick's Sporting Goods now in the area, as well as Big Five, our tennis needs are being better met. It's great that the racquet club is reopening. For a while it didn't seem that was going to happen again.

My best to all of you for a great and safe Christmas and New Year holidays with your family and friends. Certainly as tennis players we have a lot to be thankful for, especially this coming year.

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 choward4541@q.com.

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