Fun in the Sun - at least for playing tennis during the winter months
It's not a lot of fun playing the game of tennis when the temperature is in the 30s, add in a bit of wind and you have to be more than a die-hard to play. This past week we received another snow of a few inches and it shut down what normally takes place at all the courts in Prescott for a couple days.
At some of the subdivisions where the elevation is higher the people who play there don't worry too much about clearing the snow because it takes too much work. Other reasons might be that there are too many shaded areas or there are other options in town of courts to use for a while.
Prescott Lakes subdivision has taken down the windscreens that prevent the sun from hitting the court so their down time is reduced. The Prescott Racquet Club in the past has done the same. The high school courts are 90 percent in the sun and probably clear up the fastest of all public courts and the Armory synthetic grass doesn't melt very quickly because the snow is insulated to the point the sun reflects off the snow.
The Yavapai College courts with their blue and dark red colors really capture the heat of the sun and 90 percent of the court is clear much faster than on the old courts that were replaced a little over a year ago, but there are some shaded areas that need a little help after a snow.
Being at a mile high, Prescott tennis is in that unique position where we continue to play year-round. Our winter temperatures during most of winter from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. are normally 40 to 55 degrees, which is very playable. You just dress the part and with the sun shining you are playing in a warm-up more often than shorts and a T-shirt.
What is tough during the winter months here is playing before 9:30 a.m. or after the sun goes down. Yes, it's cold, but even worse, the balls just don't bounce. Most tennis players know if the temperature is 50 degrees or less you should not be using "high-altitude" balls. If you're not sure if they're high altitude look on the can - if it doesn't say, they're regular and will bounce better in the cold.
Safety is an issue we should all be aware of after a snow.
If there's a small patch of ice on the court and you decide to go ahead and play, even though you think everyone knows where it is and will avoid it - bad things can happen. Don't do it, it's not worth the risk of wiping out and the real possibility of injury. Cracking your head, breaking wrist, wrenching your back, all things we'd rather not contend with. Better to go out to breakfast and talk about how much fun you're going to have at Indian Wells in March.
The courts at the college will be locked when the hazards are there, and all players if in doubt can get on their website - yc.edu/tennis - and look at their home page to see if the courts at the facility are open, and which courts still might be closed.
Currently the policy of the college is to make sure players are safe, and their facilities department will get to the courts as soon as they can to help get small remnants of ice removed - the main campus and other Y.C. facilities around the county are taken care of first, naturally that's their priority, followed by places like the tennis facility.
This is the first real winter we've encountered with the new tennis facility, so it's been a learning experience of what to expect in some regard.
If you have a tennis pass and wonder about your down-time with snow, that pass will be extended for the length of time the courts are down. If you had a paid reservation and it snowed or rained that day, you have a credit for the money you spent and you can call me to reserve your next court, so you aren't paying twice.
Your tennis experience at the college is really important, so if there's been a glitch of some kind, we'll do our best to right it.
So when playing during the winter months, remember to do the following:
Dress the part. Layers of clothing you can take off as you warm up is a good idea.
Have a can of regular balls if it's going to be 50 degrees or less.
The cold sometimes makes our eyes water, so sunglasses could help.
The water is turned off, so make sure you bring something to drink.
Get a decent warm up in so you don't pull cold muscles.
Check the whole court area to make sure there are no icy spots.
And lastly, smile and laugh while beating the tar out of your opponents.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.