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The Prescott Daily Courier | Prescott, Arizona

home : sports : local March 26, 2015

8/13/2013 6:00:00 AM
My Point
Column: Closed PHS campus is good for safety, bad for public use

Chris Howard
Courier Columnist

I have the highest regard for our Prescott school board, our new high school principal, Stephanie Hillig, and athletic director Mark Goligoski. But I was thrown back a bit when I got the email about the six tennis courts being part of a new closed campus.

After talking with Goligoski and school board member Scott Hicks, I learned they also want to work as closely as possible with the community to achieve the goal of making this facility available as much as possible to the public for play.

School Superintendent Dave Smucker said, "The school board just might talk about this issue more if a proposal were worked out that keeps the campus closed and kids safe - work with Mark (Goligoski) and see what you can come up with that could be presented at the next meeting if that time frame works."

Currently the Prescott High School courts are not available for use during school hours, which has pushed many players to sites that are already filled with matches in the mornings. And when the high school PE classes use the tennis facility players know what those times are and schedule around them.

Up to this point we've had a really good thing going on with local tennis professional Sterling Fetty, who hangs his hat at this site. He also happens to coach the boys and girls PHS tennis teams and runs his daily Prescott Junior Tennis Academy there. Sterling has worked well with balancing his programs around the physical education tennis classes and helped use this centrally located facility in a manner that keeps our youngsters learning skills that didn't happen much in years gone by.

In the past - and I believe even presently - this facility has been co-managed by PHS and the City of Prescott. A few years ago the Prescott Area Tennis Association raised the money, with the help of former AD Wayne Howell, and built a tennis shed/pro shop for the good of the community to hopefully have a tennis professional get situated in - and that has happened.

The PHS courts were rebuilt about seven years ago, and the school/tennis community has used this area with renewed vigor under this new organized setup.

Between the use of the courts with PHS tennis classes, boys and girls tennis teams, the Academy and community, this expensive facility is really getting used to its best advantage.

With Sterling at the courts a high percentage of each day, plus the high school instructors and the community tennis players, these six courts have been much less prone to vandalism and misuse. All of these people are security to the school and this facility. They don't let things take place that aren't supposed to. They care and it's made a big difference from what the past has held at this very site.

The Yavapai College tennis facility had the same situation years ago.

The courts were not very well taken care of, they were vandalized and misused, and then the local tennis players built a tennis shed, put a pro in place and the entire facility came back to life in a very positive manner and has continued in that vein. Fortunately the courts have never had to be locked up.

Since the school board has campus safety issues, a small fence that would cost very little could be constructed from the Ruth Street perimeter fence to the back tennis fence. This would block the tennis courts from the rest of the campus except for a gate that could be unlocked for PE classes. This would allow the community to still utilize this fine facility that taxpayer dollars built and maintain.

I hope this issue is revisited. Just maybe we can compromise in a manner that works best for all involved, including PHS and the Prescott-area tennis players.

It seems we all want the same thing: a safe school and full use of the tennis facility.

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

Related Stories:
• Prescott High tennis courts open to public on trial basis
• Public access to PHS tennis courts changes with school back in session

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Reader Comments

Posted: Friday, August 16, 2013
Article comment by: Bernie Adam

Funny I did see that Sterling has washed the courts and reattached wind screens, I have quit teaching because I did not want to worry about getting a court. I guess if I would have had my own private lock on a gate I would have had no problem. If Edna and others have their way we will find out what shape the courts will be in without supervision?

Posted: Friday, August 16, 2013
Article comment by: Open Campus Hawk

"Closed PHS campus is good for safety..."

Oh, yes, and while we're at it, let's just wrap the kids in a soft cocoon and keep them in a fortified bunker all day...that's even SAFER!

Yeah, kids that are 16, 17 or 18...heading off to college, the military or another state to live/work in the next year or so...they need to be PROTECTED from the world until the very last moment. Let's keep them SAFE on the school campus all day. Of course after school, on weekends and hollidays, well, the kids are going to be in extreme danger because they aren't being PROTECTED by their beloved school. But at least they won't be in the community during the school lunch break.

Obviously we can't have any senior citizens playing on the tennis courts during the school day either. While that's another of the UN-PROVEN cirteria used to ensure the safety of the kids on the closed campus, it's just as "valid" as all the other issues that led to the closed campus policy.

Posted: Friday, August 16, 2013
Article comment by: edna moglewer

Sterling is a very nice person and a very good tennis instructor. It's questionable if he will have time enough to attach screens, wash the courts, etc. Take a look. The problem of denial and required "reservations" through Sterling is still an important one for the community. Bernie is a tennis pro and it's understandable he would see the problem this way. The community will have to decide if they want the High School courts open to the public. The community as a whole can better protect from vandals. Are there really that many???

Posted: Thursday, August 15, 2013
Article comment by: Bernie Adam

Who is Sterling? Sterling is the man that keeps the skate boards off of the courts. Sterling is the person who washes and cleans the courts. Sterling is the person who keeps the nets & wind screens up and in good shape. Sterling is the person who cleans up all of the trash that people leave all over. Sterling is the person who coaches the boys high school team. Does he do this all for free no.. would you? Does he get paid by the school for his janitorial services NO He earns it and I think the amount that he earns is well worth having someone keeping your taxes safe from vandals.

Posted: Thursday, August 15, 2013
Article comment by: edna moglewer moglewer

Very important issues are raised here in this school property/public funded issue.
The school obviously needs a tennis team and a coach for it. That's a given. But for the school to raise money renting a court to a professional in direct competition to the public's use of this court seems a process that the wider community should be discussing and deciding upon. The YMCA has always had its couple weeks on the court for its programs but the intense bookings now for private profit is something we all ought to be discussing. Time for some big decisions.

Posted: Wednesday, August 14, 2013
Article comment by: Linda Ketchum

It's amazing how rude people can be when they don't have to sign their real names to comments. And why bother making a comment if you don't read the article? Who is Sterling? Read the article. I see no problem adding the few feet of fencing from the courts to the outer fencing to close the courts off from the rest of the campus. The tennis facilities have been available to the public, and by adding this small amount of fencing, the public will be able to continue to use the facilities. I see no downside. Safety solved, Since it was public tax dollars that were used to build and maintain these courts, it only seems right that the public not be kept from using them. Good article. Now I think someone needs to write an article about how schools "completely raise every child". I think this would be of great interest to parents everywhere.

Posted: Wednesday, August 14, 2013
Article comment by: Sterling Who

Who is this Sterling guy, what is he profiting off of these public school properties, and what does he pay to do this? Sounds like he runs these courts for the schools. Good for him. Can I invest?

Posted: Wednesday, August 14, 2013
Article comment by: Step up For public schools

Chris, et al. Get a grip. The PUSD are public schools and they have a wide focus of what they have to take care of. In the wake of school safety issues and thousands of responsibilities that schools have to take care of (completely raising every child) it seems that your tennis program is a minor issue. How can YOU help the schools... as opposed to "they are hurting my little tennis program" Sorry. Your tennis is important to a few people, but we are asking the schools to do EVERYTHING for EVERYONE. When are we as a community going to step up to help schools? (In prescott... probably never.)

Posted: Tuesday, August 13, 2013
Article comment by: Sparrow Hawk

Probably nothing, this isn't the golf course.

Posted: Tuesday, August 13, 2013
Article comment by: Michael in Prescott

I didn't the information in this letter, how much do the outside interests pay to use the school tennis courts for matches and academies?

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