Trusted local news leader for Prescott area communities since 1882
Tue, Nov. 12

Howard Column: The new Yavapai College Tennis Center is finally here

Built and originally opened in August of 1974 the then-called Whipple Park recreation area, later as most of us knew it the "Roughrider Tennis Center with six-lighted asphalt tennis courts," was demolished this spring after providing 40 years of service to thousands of tennis players.

It was complemented with two baseball/softball/Little League fields, restrooms and a shared parking lot brought together with matching federal funds in a 25-year intergovernmental agreement between the City of Prescott and Yavapai College for an original cost of about $109,000.

The whole area was very rough-cut but over the years has been honed into what has become the hub of tennis in Prescott and one of the main sites for various baseball tournaments and leagues in the "Softball Capital of the World."

Although the lifespan of an asphalt tennis court is about 18 years, an extra 22 years was stretched into the equation with the help of an additional asphalt-overlay and then 15 years of crack repair by the infamous George Reynolds and his band of volunteers. I'd be remiss if I didn't mention the help of the Millie Ryan tennis trust fund money and all it did when no other real funding was available for the cost of materials for resurfacing, trash cans, patio expansion, wheel-chair sidewalk, benches, backboard, equipment and more.

The Prescott Area Tennis Association and the Yavapai Tennis Association has also had their fingerprints all over this facility with their help in events, money, time and effort.

After two attempts had been made to replace this old tennis center over the past six years, a tremendous community effort of organization between the PATA and Yavapai College created a plan of action that will shine for decades to come for tennis players with our brand new post-tensioned concrete seven-court lighted regulation tennis center, which also features fabulous landscaping, spectator viewing areas, and additional parking area with computer reservation system.

The programming will include playing groups for all levels of play during the weekday a.m./weekend hours and during evenings in the warmer months (with the high profile new lighting system) that can be accessed on the website.

There will be a minimal user fee to offset the cost of running and maintaining a facility that will make us all proud to be a part of.

You'll be able to walk-on (Drop Box/envelope) as there will be courts available for such, or make a computer reservation online to ensure the time you'll be playing. If you're an avid tennis enthusiast you have the option of purchasing a "tennis pass" for 30 days, 6 months or annually, and for that you'll be able to play as much as your body can muster while receiving a discount.

To keep reservations on a fair basis, you must use the reservation made in your credit-card name before another can be issued, yet you can walk on open courts as often as you'd like when you have a pass.

A reservation sheet will be posted each day that shows what courts are reserved and which are open for walk-on play.

Approved tennis professionals will be running a full array of programs for all ability levels and ages, so anyone will be able to learn the game in a fun and fitting manner to keep improving. You'll be able to set up private lessons, join clinics, team practices, singles and doubles strategy sessions, stroke of the week, college classes, cardio classes, 10 and under, etc. We hope to have most all your needs met.

This facility will boast an annual schedule of tournaments, Grand Prix events, USTA League Play (practices), Mixers, Intra-Club Matches, guest speakers, exhibitions, etc. If we can accommodate a group of players you put together on a weekly basis with a constant reservation we'll do our best to help the cause.

The website will be a tennis information encyclopedia in regard to Prescott-area tennis, and one neat feature you'll get some mileage from will be our on-court tennis camera to show you up to the minute views of the facility. No need to drive across town if you know the weather isn't conducive. You'll also be able to check out local tennis news and results, as well as state and national tennis links for your enjoyment.

This new facility will open for your enjoyment Monday, Oct. 13, and the website will come online about a week before that date. Because we're turning the corner into our colder season, there will be a soft opening that will be announced with a ribbon-cutting ceremony soon. The Grand Opening will be held in May of 2015 - a tennis event all people in the area will want to attend.

A few items are yet to be added, including windscreens, bleachers, new rol-dri's, and other various equipment. But all in all this is an exciting moment for the tennis players who will use the new "Yavapai College Tennis Center," and our goal is to help create a wonderful tennis experience for you.

If all goes as planned, this seven-court tennis center could become a prototype for others built across the country and I will go out on a limb saying we want to make it "The Best Small Tennis Facility In The Country."

I'm excited and I hope you are too!

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

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