Trusted local news leader for Prescott area communities since 1882
Tue, Oct. 15

Column: A tennis wrap of 2015 and a crystal ball of thoughts to 2016

A quick look back at the 2015 season of what took place in the world of tennis in the Prescott area leaves a lot of people to give credit and thanks to. It was a banner year and that doesn't happen without an army of people dedicated to the game in many, many aspects. 

Starting at the top of the list of a who's who in local tennis promotion is our current president of the Prescott Area Tennis Association, Sue Knaup. Sue's a real go-getter, truly organized and runs on eight cylinders it seems 24 hours a day. She rewrote the bylaws, streamlined what could be whittled down and brought the organization into today's world; helped put together an amazing agenda of tennis events; promoted our junior in-school program with Jan Fisher at the helm getting 1,400 kids in the spring program and 1,600 in the fall. She pulled together a new MOU (memo of understanding) with Yavapai College to help with present and future partnerships and helped create what will become our new Park of Tennis Fame, which will be started this spring in the area in front of Court 7 at the Y.C. Tennis Center.

Sue is a dynamo of energy and this next year expect to see even more to take place.

We've had some groups that different levels of players join in on weekly or bi-weekly match play that are headed up by organizers who have taken a special part in promoting the game locally and believe you me, it's a thankless job. Susan Popko, Terri Farneti, David Rainey (and I'd be remiss not to mention Russ Wagner, too), Ron Samuelson, Dan Lenardon, Cheryl Murrieta, Mary Coby, Nancy Seaman, Jeff Henderson, Bob Steele (with Drop-In), Peggy Poston and Natalie Fisher with Prescott Lakes - all are stellar people, players and organizers. 

Our PATA/USTA junior in-school tennis program is coordinated by Jan Fisher, who has done a great job with getting our young players acquainted to the game we all love, creating the next generation of players. Coach Sterling Fetty, who has coached both the boys and girls tennis teams at Prescott High School for around 10 years now, has won so many regional championships I can't keep count, not to mention Coach of the Year awards. He also ran two summer camps for kids this past summer, as well as his year-round junior tennis academy.

With the four tournaments and our Tennis Festival event we ran this last year, our tournament committee were just excellent in all the duties they performed and with over 100 entries in each of them can expect that many more participants in 2016. A big thanks to Dee Navarro, Natalie Fisher, Patty Bessey, Susan Korte, Scott Sutton, Dave Hibbs, Eileen Chalfoun, Cecilia McGuire, Nannette Oately , Robin Fox, Fay Matsumoto,  Jan Hasse, Andrea Myer, Adriana Howard, Sue Drown, Brynna Valenzuela, Dinah Lunsford, Mary Coby, and others I'm sure I missed. It couldn't have happened without each of you donating your time, special efforts and talents.

The businesses and people who were sponsors in 2015 allowed us to do so many of the items above to keep tennis vibrant and fun for the whole community, as well as those who purchased bricks for the "Walk of Fame" - and players with annual PATA membership.  Thank you - it makes all the difference.

Yavapai College Athletic Director Brad Clifford has been a real trooper in helping the tennis cause in so many ways and levels, as have other Y.C. staff members David Laurance, Chris Larson, JE Crockett, Matt Borja, Jerry Zaryczny and many additional staff members of the college.

If you've been on the court with special instruction from some of the local tennis professionals throwing out great advice and examples of how to improve your game you've probably run into the likes of Fay Matsumoto, Dave Hibbs, Bernie Adam, Tim McClintock, Cathy Low, Eric Myers, Allison Wood, Nick Cristea, Dwayne LeSassier, Jan Hasse or the Human Ball Machine, Donnie Jones. These front-line lovers and teachers of tennis show the enthusiasm and fun in helping to get and make your game the best it can be - and certainly creates a special aura.

Been on a USTA team? The captains round up the players, get the information out and are in charge of schedules, rosters of players, getting people signed up and match line-ups. If a team wins their regions, they also get to take their team to sectionals. A great big thanks to captains Diane Brock, Chery Murrieta, Ron Samuelson, Larry Plaster,  Rick Merring, Karen Taylor, Connie Funk, George Molina, Northern Arizona coordinator Jan Blackman and our very own Liz Murrieta, who is the Southwest USTA Adult League coordinator in the Phoenix SWUSTA office.

All of these events couldn't take place if we didn't have a great contingency of players who are weekly at so many different sites, our public courts, subdivisions and private clubs. Getting to know one another might take us a bit out of our comfort zone, but it enriches our community and bonds us, so I and those listed above encourage you to join a tennis event in 2016 that stretches you a bit - it's definitely worth the time and effort to do so.

The Prescott Area Tennis Association board deserve our thanks, they are a real catalyst in continuing to move the game forward, as is our city Parks and Rec Director Joe Baynes and his staff and the Prescott Unified School District for their efforts in taking pride in their tennis facilities and teams.

The Prescott Daily Courier may be the only newspaper in Arizona that lets us tout the game of tennis on a weekly basis and we are so lucky to have that platform - a big thank you to letting that take place.

As for 2016, which is right around the corner, full steam ahead. The tennis schedule of events came out two week ago in this column and hopefully you have a copy to plan your tennis by. The Indian Wells tournament is coming up in early March and if you plan on attending, now is the time to acquire tickets and accommodations to what is now known as the fifth slam.

Hope you're really looking forward to a bang-up tennis year in 2016 - and "Happy New 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

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