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Thursday, December 22, 2011

Tennis Column: A Holiday Wish List for Santa

Chris Howard
Courier Columnist
 Chris Howard is a local USPTA Tennis Professional with over 35 years in the racquet and fitness industry. He can be reached at 928-642-6775 or

Christmas is only two days away and Santa hasn't received this special list of wants and needs from some of his local tennis players.

The Courier has been nice enough to run this column knowing that Mr. Claus has his own comp subscription to "Everyone's Hometown" paper - encouraging his elves to work overtime adding a few gifts to his bag before heading out on the 25th.

As the top board member of the Prescott Area Tennis Association, president Lisa Cook would like to see each person in the area find the time to pick up a racquet this year and play some tennis. From 4-year-olds to 84 year-olds, this game is one for a life-time. If you haven't tried it yet, it's time.

If Santa could find it in his heart to make sure all the courts are in good playing condition, nets at the right height, with racquets and balls ready to use, all able-bodied people in the Tri-city area will have no excuses not to see what they've been missing.

Mentioning playing, all the tennis professionals who teach the game day in and out would like to request on their list that each public and private tennis facility take the time and effort to use their talents in creating programs for their current and futuristic patrons.

Why even have a court or set of courts if there's no one to care for, teach and promote the game, put programs in place that enhance the cost and effort of those courts being built and to help with the enjoyment, exercise, enthusiasm, skill development, and social aspect of what the game of tennis really has to offer?

George Reynolds and his merry band of volunteers have been pretty good again this year managing the court safety, filling cracks and resurfacing those repaired areas with paint and lines, but soon it'll take more than that at the Yavapai College courts known as Roughrider.

One of the big items on the Christmas list would be to make sure that after 40 years of use, the capital improvement line item for replacing this facility stays put. If the replacement is done right, with post-tensioned concrete, the maintenance for the next 75 years or so would be almost non-existent except to repaint the surface every 6 or 7 years.

If anyone wants to see what happens when nothing is done to a tennis facility that at one time cost about $300,000 dollars to construct, go by the courts at Granite Mountain Middle School. It's like a one-time expensive present that now needs hauled to the dump, very sad indeed.

The elementary schools through the efforts of their after-schools program, PATA and Quickstart coordinator Barbara Briseno, and trained instructors, have made an inroad in letting Kindergarten through 5th graders learn the game of tennis at very nominal costs this year.

It would be nice to have all elementary schools in all area incorporate after-school programs so each area of kids would have the opportunity to learn tennis and so many other wonderful tools of life that aren't provided in normal classroom curriculum. Please Santa, add that to your list for all the kids to have available and enjoy.

It's been tough to see the loss of sports at the college level, don't you think Santa?

Education, social skills, work ethic, book and street smarts come in so many ways.

Athletics and the arts teach in a way that normal classrooms can't, that's not good or bad, it's just a fact. Job skills, staying fit, creating a healthy and prideful school atmosphere and learning center, consists of body, soul and mind.

If during this down economic cycle where we can't afford traveling teams and paid staff for a variety of sports, can we add to the holiday wish list a wide set of intramural sports and teams that take up some of the slack until we can implement normal school athletics once more?

We've had so many people benefit from having nice tennis facilities and other athletic facilities in the area, as well as fun and varied programs, professional instructors, and reasonable costs. It's easy to see why people from all over the country want to raise their families or retire here.

The last wish is to just keep on doing what you've already implemented Santa, taking care of what's in place and growing at a reasonable pace.

We'll try to keep doing our part too.

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