Trusted local news leader for Prescott area communities since 1882
Thu, July 18

My Point column: Looking back at 2016, pages of tennis keep on turning

It was another good year of tennis and tennis events in the Prescott area.  If you wanted to learn or just get back into the game there were many easy outlets. Lessons, clinics, college classes, playing groups of all abilities, USTA leagues, mixers, one-day Grand Prix’s and full weekend tournaments. 

You could make court reservations or just show up and walk on. You can look at one of two websites - yc.edu/tennis or prescotttennis.com - and see what might appeal to you or that is easy to become a part of, shoot an email to one of many local pros to ask questions you might have or one of the Prescott Area Tennis board members who are very knowledgeable. 

There are four public tennis facilities with seven courts at Yavapai College, six at Prescott High School (Ruth Street), four at the Armory tennis facility off of Gurley Street, and six at Bradshaw Mountain High School in Prescott Valley.  It’s nice to say that all of them are in very-good-to-excellent condition.

So, 23 courts available to the public at little-to-no cost to give you easy opportunities to join in the game of tennis.

Many of us live in subdivisions that also have tennis facilities such as: Yavapai Hills (2), Kingswood/Prescott Athletic Club (5), Prescott Ranch (1), Hidden Valley (4), Prescott Canyon Estates (1), Stone Ridge (1), Granville (2), Haisley (2), Pine Lakes (1), Timber Ridge (2), Hassayampa Country Club (1), Prescott Lakes (2), Montana Terrace (1), Quailwood (2), Pronghorn Ranch (1), and there are others not listed here to add up to another 30 private courts that, if you happen to have friends who live there, you might be abe to access as well.

With over 50 courts in the Prescott area, tennis is quite vibrant.

Let it be known that if we didn’t have the following people and board of Prescott Area Tennis Association members and volunteers involved in doing much of the planning of tennis locally, we’d be a shell of what we are - and that’s a fact.  Board members are Dawn Teal, president; Natalie Fisher, vice president; Terri Farneti, secretary; Robin Fox, treasurer; and members at large are Fay Matsumto, Sterling Fetty and myself.

These people, and the following, volunteer their time in banding the tennis players of Prescott together in very many ways. 

• A voice for its many public facilities.

• Fundraising efforts for special projects and programs. 

• Organizing and running the many annual tennis events that take place. 

• After School Tennis Program for juniors. 

• Supporting local high school players with scholarships for various trips they’ve earned.

• Facility cleanup days, repair of courts, purchasing and repairing equipment for such.  

• Helping to put USTA league teams together, matching players, creating a tennis atmosphere of good will and friendships. 

The following people went over and beyond in helping this past year. Dee Navarro, Daniel Beffel, Dave Hibbs, Eileen Chalfoun, Susan Korte, Jan Hasse, Sue Knaup, Penny Thomas, Nannette Oatley, Dinah Lunsford, Ron Samuelson, Bill Smith, Ofe Rhodes, Scott Sutton, John Siegel, Mary Colby, Genetta Plaster, and once again all of our PATA Board members.  All of these people organized and ran the tennis events that took place in 2016.

A special thanks to Jan Fisher, who makes our public After-School Tennis Program take place, as well as all the physical education teachers who run them.  Nice to get a racquet into so many children’s hands, the next generation of players.

There is another group of people who run playing groups each week who are a special breed.  The time it takes to make sure the group numbers are correct, levels on par and keep things running week after week include: David Rainey and Lisa Rouse, Dan Lenardon, Nancy Seaman, Dawn Teal, Susan Popko, Terri Farneti, Ron Samuelson, Cheryl Murrieta, Andy and Matt Mraz, Bob Steele and Dave.  It’s a labor of love and they enjoy the competition and camaraderie ... but it still takes quite a bit of time, effort and the right type of personality.

The tennis professionals and high school coaches who bring new blood into the fold, help make the ones better who are currently playing and work a full to part-time living at teaching the game of tennis are priceless.  Dave Hibbs, Sterling Fetty and his Advantage Tennis Academy at Prescott High, well-known Fay Matsumoto, Tim McClintock, Bernie Adam, Cathy Low, Nic Cristea, Eric Myers, Donnie Jones ... the Human Ball Machine; they all make it fun while giving out the expertise needed to enjoy the game that much more.

Many of our subdivisions have tennis chair-people who help set the rules and upkeep of their facilities.  Running their own events, play-groups, monthly socials and that makes a lot of sense - why would you spend tens of thousands of dollars and not have it kept up and programmed?  I don’t know all the people around who are in the positions, but Natalie Fisher, Paul Nebel, Orlo Jantz, Charlie Harbison, Paul Sadick, George Christea, George Reynolds, and all you others ... thanks so much, it makes a big difference.

The Prescott Parks and Rec director, Joe Baynes, and his crew of people who make and keep our public tennis facilities nice; Yavapai College A.D. Brad Clifford and the Yavapai College guys - “Who-RAA”; and Missy Townsend at PHS, the AD who runs in so many directions, thanks so much to all of you.

The Northern Arizona USTA chapter (Jana, Jan, Larry, and Scott), Southwest Tennis USTA (Eric Mitchell, Paul Burns, and Jeff Sikes) - who we work with closely - thanks for all your help this past year, we’re all in this together.

I’d be amiss to not give a big thanks to The Daily Courier.  I don’t know of any other newspaper that gives a weekly column to promote the game of tennis, its people and icons here and everywhere - it has made a great difference in where we were yesteryear to today and certainly for tomorrow.

For those of you who aren’t playing as much any more or have had to stop due to getting up there in years - physical disabilities or ? - know many still read this column, we miss you and I miss you - and know you’re in our corner.  All the time and effort you spent in the past has also brought us to this point in time, and it’s a good place right now.

So, a belated Merry Christmas and early New Year to all and looking forward to 2017.  With all that are moving forward in such a positive way in “Everybody’s Hometown,” it’s got to be terrific for not only tennis, but all things that make this community special!

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@gmail.com.

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