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Wed, Oct. 16

Column: Prescott's tennis community awaits upcoming changes

Who would ever guess that tennis in the little old town of Prescott could be in such a buzz about the sport and its facilities?

Yavapai College is soon to embark on a rebuild of the tennis facility on campus that will take the six 40-year-old courts out of existence and four or five months (starting March/April or May) later end up with hopefully seven post-tensioned concrete regulation new ones, with great lights, divider fences, seating, beautiful landscaping, a repaved parking lot, as well as a means for some type of reservation system (to one degree or another), with successful old and new programming provided for youth, adults and seniors.

Will there be some minimal user-fees involved to play there? Guess the answer to that is do you want to make sure there's money set aside for daily maintenance, nets, windscreens, lights, snow removal, plus an account in place for court resurfacing every five to seven years, not to mention a capital fund implemented to replace the courts when they need rebuilt in another 40 to 60 years?

Crisis management is out and smart planning put in place. And what a relief that is.

The fundraising goal of $200,000 is gaining momentum and the partnership of the Prescott Area Tennis Association and Yavapai College Foundation would like to see locals who have enjoyed these courts in the past/present and soon to be future help the cause with a donation which can be sent and made out to: Yavapai College Foundation (atten: tennis project) 1100 E. Sheldon St. PMB 6904, Prescott, AZ 86301. The donation is tax deductible (Tax ID: 23-7232985).

With that said it would be nice to see the City of Prescott involved financially since about 90 percent of the people who use this facility are residents and not college students. It seems a line item is in the city's budget to possibly help - using recreational impact fees - if the council sees fit to pitch in with this expanded quality of life project. There's no doubt many of the people who have moved to Prescott do so because of the climate and public recreational amenities. This new facility will be a vast improvement for tennis players of all ages and a showpiece for our community for decades to come.

The Prescott Racquet Club closed its doors two weeks ago for the first time since 1985 and the phone was disconnected. A very sad moment.

In its heyday the club (tennis/racquetball/swimming/Jacuzzi/weight room/aerobics/café/etc.) employed more than 30 people, and had membership numbers from 600 to 1,000. It served the community and its guests for tournaments and other fun events from out of town for 28 years.

Club owner Steve Waples now has it back in his possession and is assessing what its future will be.

My fingers are crossed that the seven courts at the Prescott Racquet Club will be revamped and have new life breathed back into them. Time will tell.

The Prescott High School tennis facility was given a three-month trial period of being open to the public (during school hours) when an approved court monitor is present around physical education tennis classes. We went 40 years without any problem using the courts during school hours for the public. Hopefully that track record will help the board with its future decision.

The closed campus concept put a crimp in using the six courts on Ruth Street for the general tennis-playing public during school hours, and the school board saw fit to experiment with community use. So far so good, and we hope the board sees fit to work with the community on these needs.

When the college courts are being reconstructed there will be only two sites for the public to use: Prescott High School and the Armory courts; a total of 10 courts. This will put a major crunch on prime-time use. It will put some very good tennis programs on hold for four months or so and hopefully the Yavapai College tennis classes will find a slot to still be held through the summer months.

We'll make it through the storm OK with everyone doing their best to get along and then open the new Roughrider tennis facility with a bang!

When all the dust settles, my hope is that tennis in the Prescott area will be better and stronger than ever.

Chris Howard is a local USPTA Tennis Professional and has worked in the racquet and fitness industry for over 40 years. He can be reached at 928-642-6775 or

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