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Chris Howard, Courier Columnist

Stories by Chris

Two Sundays ago I had the distinct pleasure of getting to try my hand at the game of pickleball.

Do you ever sit back and look at your life retrospectively and have thoughts of things you might have done differently if you had the chance to go back and have a do-over?

Former Prescott resident and 16 year-old Taylor Johnson just completed her fourth major with playing this year’s girl’s 18-and-under singles and doubles events on the red clay of Roland Garros, better known as the French Open.

This past week I had the opportunity to play a grass court tournament in the Scottsdale area at Desert Highlands. They have four neatly manicured grass courts and six very nice clay.

When players work out their tournament schedule for the year in the regard of number of events and leagues they would like to play, which probably includes — singles/doubles and maybe even mixed, how much time they can devote, money, what their body can still put out without the chance absorbing too many aches and pains let alone injuries — it can become quite the balancing act.

Millions of Roger Federer fans are saddened to have learned that Roger will be skipping the French Open again this year, the second year in a row — the previous year due to knee surgery.

Billie Jean King, 73, was in the town of Prescott this past week with her life and business partner Ilana Kloss taking care of her parents estate and visiting the likes of our YMCA, the Prescott High School tennis facility and it’s tennis patrons (especially the kids there) in between all kinds of neat things taking place in her life.

Life is a bunch of trade-offs of things you have to do — even though many of them you’d probably rather not, things you want to do, obligations of various levels and only 24 hours each day, 7 days a week and 365 days each year to come to terms with who you are and what you want in this world.

Keeping any sport alive and well is a crazy and complicated circle of constant events at all levels and endeavors of operation.

What can you say about the best tennis player who’s ever picked up a racquet except “Bravo” while still at the age of 35 continuing to surprise even himself with winning the three biggest tournaments of 2017, the Australian and 18th singles major of his career, Indian Wells and the Miami Open - Roger Federer.

Have you ever thought you'd like to attend one of the four majors, or the next tier down the Masters tennis events that are held all over the world, but felt it was just a pipe dream because the funds and tickets just weren't there to be realized?

Have you ever been in the situation where you’re asked to play tennis with a new group of players and as you warm up it becomes evident to you that this level just might be in a bit over your head?

It’s known as the sport of and for a life-time, you can play from the age of 5 and if healthy enough into your 90’s, yes - the game of tennis.

There have been many great tennis players since the advent of modern tennis in 1874, but probably no greater group of males from the same country than the following 6 men who represented Australia from the 50’s to the mid 80’s.

In the past 17 years I’ve had the pleasure of taking 3 days or so and covering the BNP Paribas men’s and women’s tennis open singularly or with my wife - roaming, watching, writing, eating and drinking my way from court to court, match to match - oblivious to time.

Maybe you’ve been procrastinating about doing all kinds of things, getting in better shape, becoming more active, getting back at something you used to do well or taking up an activity that you always thought you might enjoy.

Twenty-one years after the “Lone Wolf” died there are still many who think that just maybe the one-and-only Pancho Gonzales was the greatest American tennis player and maybe throughout it’s history so far.

By Chris Howard, Courier Columnist February 28, 2017

My father has been on my mind a lot lately, he’s 93 years-old, has bad knees and spent the last 6 weeks in the hospital, some surgery and then a rehab unit. It was touch and go, but he’s home now and doing better.

By Chris Howard, Courier Columnist February 21, 2017

From very humble beginnings in 1976, the now largest ATP Tour Masters 1000 and WTA Premier combined event — known as the BNP Paribas Open held in the city of Indian Wells, California ­— is right around the corner.

By Chris Howard, Courier Columnist February 14, 2017

Here's an up-date on the little girl who started her tennis career here in Prescott and has parlayed it to heights most only dream about - Taylor Johnson.

By Chris Howard, Courier Columnist February 7, 2017

In the game of tennis it used to be rather rare to see players perform at their highest level after the age of 30, let alone 35 to 40, but at this particular time and place and for the Australian Open 2017 that thought pattern certainly isn’t the case.

By Chris Howard, Courier Columnist January 31, 2017

If you have a child that is home-schooled or a 7th or 8th grader who might like to play sports in high school you may want to read what our local schools have in place to make the experience the best it can be.

By Chris Howard, Courier Columnist January 24, 2017

A road trip to the Palm Springs area to play a tennis event at the Desert Princess Country Club for the Plaza 28th Annual USTA Senior Tennis Tournament, January 9th to the 15th is where I’m writing this column from.

By Chris Howard, Courier Columnist January 17, 2017

If you’re an avid tennis players who enjoys the game of singles and doubles, there is no doubt you have come across situations during a match that you might not known what to do exactly.

By Chris Howard, Courier Columnist January 9, 2017
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Interviewing Joel Drucker, for me as a columnist, was like interviewing Roger Federer — both are legends in and of the professional sport of tennis — Roger’s unmatched accomplishments on the court and Joel’s recording and reporting of its rich history with articulate, inspiring journalism.

By Chris Howard, Courier Columnist January 3, 2017

It was another good year of tennis and tennis events in the Prescott area. 

By Chris Howard, Courier Columnist December 27, 2016
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There’s a guy who is and yet really isn’t that well known who played on the tour from 1967 to 1974, born in Ontario, Canada, in 1945 and was early on a better hockey player than tennis - playing both sports for the University of Toronto. 

By Chris Howard, Courier Columnist December 20, 2016

In the scheme of day-to-day things you have to do, there are fun carrots that we need to keep our lives a bit challenged in competition as well as enjoyment and satisfaction ... and there’s nothing like a few tennis events for tennis players to do just that.

By Chris Howard, Courier Columnist December 12, 2016

It’s really not that difficult finding a way to become one of those people you see out on the courts, hitting serves and sustaining rallies - laughing, yelling in frustration while enjoying a rousing game of tennis at one of our local tennis sites.

By Chris Howard, Courier Columnist December 6, 2016

Tennis, in many ways, is won or lost in the way you think about what is to take place.

By Chris Howard, Courier Columnist November 28, 2016

Every now and then there are items in life that you could probably just not think about and your mind would be less cluttered with what maybe the book, “Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff,” was about. 

By Chris Howard, Courier Columnist November 21, 2016
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One of the Prescott area’s tennis players, Dick McGaw, recently won a national title in the 75 men’s doubles in Las Vegas, which is a quite the feat.

By Chris Howard, Courier Columnist November 14, 2016

In 2008 men’s tennis at Arizona State University was cut from the program - as was wrestling and the men’s swimming team.

By Chris Howard, Courier Columnist November 7, 2016

The Yavapai College’s tennis facility will be closed this coming week from Friday to Thursday, Nov. 4-10, for repairs and then resurfacing due to those repairs.

By Chris Howard, Courier Columnist October 31, 2016

When you’re out taking or giving lessons, many of the instructors and players come up with bits of wisdom in short sayings, call them quips of wisdom. 

By Chris Howard, Courier Columnist October 24, 2016

“To take your trials and turn them into triumphs, to turn your contests into victories, to fight and never let anyone else define or defeat you” is what Richard Williams — father to Venus and Serena Williams — taught his daughters from an early age.

By Chris Howard, Courier Columnist October 17, 2016

In the world of tennis — and on all levels from beginners to professionals — there are idiosyncrasies players create that could be described as weird habits, neurotic quirks, charming (disgusting) possibly individualistic rituals, maybe put together with reason — but most likely in the words of Stevie Wonder, with “Superstition.”

By Chris Howard, Courier Columnist October 11, 2016

We have two local women tennis players who have been working hard at their games the past few years to see how well they could compete on not just a local, state or sectional level in tennis, but on a national scale — and, as of this past week, there are some very successful results to report for Fay Matsumoto and Jan Hasse.

By Chris Howard, Courier Columnist October 3, 2016

On Oct. 2, the Prescott Area Tennis Association will be holding its second annual Tennis Park of Fame Clinic and Induction Ceremony. 

By Chris Howard, Courier Columnist September 26, 2016

Sixteen year-old Taylor Johnson, who spent her early years here in Prescott, going to Abia Judd elementary school, learning the game of tennis at the Prescott Racquet Club and then the ATA Junior Tennis Academy under the direction of USPTA Tennis coach Sterling Fetty at Prescott High School tennis facility, is making her mark in the world of tennis and at the highest junior levels.

By Chris Howard, Courier Columnist September 20, 2016
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This past week I received an email from Melody Braden that had brought tears to her eyes.

By Chris Howard, Courier Columnist September 12, 2016

Sterling Fetty our local USPTA Tennis Professional and Prescott High School tennis coach is throwing out a tennis challenge to the local players who just might want to see how they would fare against the eight ATA juniors (four guys/four gals, 18 and younger) representing the Southwest section of the USTA in South Carolina, Oct. 20 to 23.

By Chris Howard, Courier Columnist September 5, 2016

I am so saddened and sorry, yet thankful — that life can be so good for most of us here in “Everybody’s Hometown” where we are very insulated from what takes place in many parts of the world, where we hear about grief stricken areas only in news reports and occasionally from a few people who have been in less than stellar conditions.

By Chris Howard, Courier Columnist August 29, 2016

A little over a week ago I was making the rounds at the longest running tournament (in the same city) held in the United States, the Western and Southern Tennis Open in Mason, Ohio - technically Cincinnati since 1899.

By Chris Howard, Courier Columnist August 22, 2016
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Junior team tennis is a fun avenue for up and coming junior tennis players and, in the last four years, the local junior tennis academy – coached by USPTA Professional Sterling Fetty (ATA) from Prescott High School – has been sending teams to the Sectional tournament to compete against other teams in the Southwest.

By Chris Howard, Courier Columnist August 15, 2016

Have you noticed in your life that there are certain people who have a special knack of being able to take an idea that might almost seem an impossible task and find a way to not only develop it, but enlist others to join in and help complete it?

It seems almost impossible to add something new and unusual to make the game of tennis more fun or easier to use - in practice, learning tools, equipment, wear ... clothing/shoe design - or any other aspect related to what has transpired in the past 50 years.

This past weekend the Prescott Area Tennis Association held the Prescott Mile High Senior Open Tennis Tournament, and it was another pretty good success that couldn’t and would not have happened without the exceptional help of its volunteer tournament committee.

Doubles is to chess like singles is to checkers, a bit more involved – it has to be because you have a partner to work with – more combinations, strategy and certainly communication.

Tuesday is the deadline to enter the USTA sanctioned “Prescott Mile High Senior Tennis Tournament” held July 22-24th at the Yavapai College tennis facility.