A Tennis Player Weighs in on Public Courts

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Should Memphis close some of its tennis centers and refocus on a first-class megacenter instead?

One serious Memphis tennis player (and tennis dad and patron of both public and private tennis clubs) thinks so.

After I wrote about public tennis centers and other public and private sports facilities earlier this week, I heard from Steve Lahue. Steve is a high-level club player. I am posting his letter to me with his permission. Dissenting viewpoints are welcome.

"Just read your article on sports growth and wanted to add my perspective . I think one of the problems with the tennis scene in Memphis is the tennis facilities are so spread apart. You have the public facilities that have a little tennis at each one but not enough too sustain a well kept busy center. The private clubs' problems are economical.People are cutting back and the better tennis players are playing public .

In my travels as a tennis dad I have been to some incredible centers: Burns Park in Little Rock, they just hosted and I attended with my son the National Boys 14 's. This is a huge tournament that draws kids and their families from all over the country. My son played dubs with a kid from LA , California. Played against kids from Washington State and Northern California. I want to say their facility has like 30 outdoor courts and maybe 5 indoor . It is a public facility that is located in a park setting. Little Rock also has a couple other facilities.

The most impressive I have seen is Mobile Alabama. Mobile Tennis Center . 60-70 tennis courts. They also run the best tennis tournaments and are the most organized. They will host a Bullfrog boys and girls all age groups and have a 100 plus draw in each group. Realize at 8 am they can put 70 matches on at one time .

Birmingham , Mississippi , Kentucky public indoor facilities are incredible .Georgia I could go on and on . I can go on and on. My point here is these facilities are bringing a very healthy demographic to their respective cities CONSISTENTLY. They also have strong local programs that are affordable. The kids in Memphis who are the best athletes are not playing tennis. If there is one large facility it brings the tennis community to one spot and promotes competition at every level. It will also bring the demographics of Memphis closer together. I play at Whitehaven and there are good things going on but you can see that the level of coaching is not what it could be . Raleigh is a dump , Bellevue is one of the best public indoor
courts in the city , Cotton and I used to play there. Wolbrect is a joke .

I think the solution would be to close these facilities (easier said than done )and build a great facility and find the RIGHT people to run it. Well that is my 2 cents and I have to go . Let me know your thoughts."

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