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The Prescott Daily Courier | Prescott, Arizona

home : sports : sports December 17, 2014

3/4/2013 9:55:00 PM
My Point
Column: Unsung heroes in Prescott tennis abound everywhere

Chris Howard
Courier Columnist

Since the advent of tennis in the Prescott area there have been many wonderful souls who have promoted, worked at, donated for and volunteered their time to give us the facilities and programs we currently have in place. And this column will make only a dent in giving some of them a small amount of thanks and gratitude for the time, effort and money they have given in those regards.

It takes a community of people to bring a sport to the point where you have facilities to play on, programs to join in, instructors to teach and sporting goods vendors/stores to purchase equipment from. A little at a time, to reach the point of realization.

I don't know who came up with the idea (and then money) to build the four courts at the Armory in the late '30s, but that's what really kicked off tennis here in the public sector. And until the early '70s that's where the high school tennis teams and public played.

The tennis boom affected tennis in Prescott in a major way when courts were built at the new Prescott High School, and then six more at Yavapai College in 1972 and 1974. An informal tennis association called the Yavapai Tennis Association was founded at that time, and they ran summer tournaments and monthly events on a volunteer basis.

Parks and Recreation Director A.C. Williams (and later Jim McCasland) was a part of this endeavor. Dick Walraven, the first president of Yavapai College, was another early contributor, as was Dan Marioni who was teaching kids during the summers and at the high school. Others - including Myron Snow, Mary (Bob) Widen, the Polk family, Brad Newman, John Sears, the Howell family, Stan and Jolene Preston, Dave Neuser, Dave Pettengill, Evan Ragsdale, Ron Barnes and more - were steering the tennis scene forward.

By 1985 the Prescott Racquet Club had opened and that added to more organized tennis fun with their new seven-court facility, bringing new blood and now full-time tennis professionals to the mix.

A handful of sanctioned tournaments were being run at the PRC, and folks from all over Arizona and the Southwest were venturing into Prescott during the summers to enjoy those events and get out of the heat of the desert communities.

Prescott was growing in leaps and bounds with many new subdivisions being built, so extra tennis amenities, courts and pools were added to entice buyers.

By 1993 the YTA had fallen to the wayside and the Prescott Area Tennis Association was formed in the kitchen of Syd and Edna Moglewer's home with new presidents Ellen Shaw and Jerry Green. Since that time we had the likes of Don Langford, Orlo Jantz, Jenny Cobb, Terri Abady, Lisa Cook, Russ/Gail Wagner, Laurie Lewis and now Liz Murrieta/Patty Bessey as the directors.

Other notable people who have been a great help on the board have been Robin Fox, Tom Sullivan, Dinah Lunsford, Karen Speer, Jack Regan, Susan Korte, Michael Herrick and Cecilia McGuire, and Eric Bourdon.

Ted Ryan started a tennis trust fund in honor of his wife, Millie, that has been directed by George Reynolds, Jo and Bob Chanaud, and Betty Greer. It has been used at the college courts to help keep that facility alive and improved the past 13 years.

It takes these types of people (and I apologize for so many who have been left out) and more to keep the sport we all love alive, well and growing. The influx of those who take over for those we have lost or can no longer play helps continue the journey of this fun vibrant, fun and healthy sport.

Thanks so much for all you've done!

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@q.com.

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