Guest View: What an indoor tennis court could do for Charles City

By Brian S. Parrott, Head Tennis Coach, Charles City High School

We had 34 girls out for tennis this spring, 12 freshman included. Charles City has four tennis courts at Sportsman’s Park. We need six courts to properly accommodate visiting teams.

There are two tennis courts at Lion’s Field, currently housing several skateboard ramps.

I am suggesting/proposing:

1) Move the skate board ramps, which are in disrepair and under utilized to some other location.

2) Resurface the existing tennis courts (some repair of the side fences is required. Cost of resurfacing, if we do it (Charles City Park and Recreation Department) will be under $10,000, much less than the addition of two courts at Sportsman’s Park, estimated to be about $75,000.

With those two tennis courts resurfaced, we can:

1) Host more matches for our girls team, and;

2) Add a Boys Tennis Team, which is something I asked to do when I took the job coaching CCHS three years ago.

I know there are young men that will want to play tennis, particularly when they find out I will run co-ed practices and have a ‘uni-sex’ ladder for challenges.

Tennis is one of the rare sports that girls and boys can compete equally on a competitive basis. It is not raw strength, but rather balance and skill to control a tennis ball.

Many girls will be able to beat the boys, until they learn how to control themselves and then the ball.

Now for my biggest “suggestion.”

Let’s put a steel-framed, translucent fabric building over those two courts and make them year-round, indoor tennis courts.

This would be owned by the city and the court fees for indoor tennis will be/should be a modest $10/per courtime of 1 hour and 15 minutes.

We can line two pickleball courts, and similar to the YMCA in Austin, Minnesota, we can charge a court fee for pickleball as well.

Pickleball is a popular sport in Charles City, and a great “entry” for junior boys and girls to learn tennis.

This will generate revenue to maintain, and pay off, the building. I estimate we will generate $30,000 per year in court fees.

This would be a collaborative effort of Charles City schools, the city and hopefully the county would consider some support as it will be a signification county improvement.

It will generate business for Charles City merchants as this indoor tennis will draw from New Hampton, Osage, Rockford, Greene, Nashua and other surrounding cities.

It will allow us to host an occasional exhibition for our young players to see. For example, Wartburg vs. Luther in a challenge perhaps, a clinic or an exhibition with the University of Iowa men’s and/or women’s tennis teams.

This addition of indoor tennis will be another recruiting tool for Zoetis and Cambrex as tennis is a worldwide sport and many people who may come to work here will have access to tennis in cities they may come from.

I will suggest we work with the YMCA to add indoor tennis to the many great things our YMCA already does for Charles City, with perhaps a slight break in the court fee for YMCA members.

I have run indoor clubs in Oregon for a number of years. I will set this up like a club with men’s nights, ladies days (and nights), mixed doubles nights, tennis lessons to be available for those who want to learn the game or improve their game.

Another benefit I predict: The high school tennis will will not be losing to Waverly-ShellRock or Decorah for too long, as our kids will have a place to practice and a coach to work with them.

Proudly, and not to brag, but in the Oregon State High School records, you will find over 50 state titles won by boys and girls I have coached since 1970 when I started coaching and teaching tennis in Portland, Oregon.

Heck, one of my students played Wimbledon seven times — and he won the U.S. Open mixed doubles in 2009. (I had the advantage of brainwashing him at the breakfast table and putting him to bed — my son.)

Let’s bring indoor tennis to Lion’s Field.

If you are supportive, please let us know perhaps with a letter to the Park and Recreation Department, or to the school board.

Or if you want to express any concerns you may have, you can write me at the following email: gobonfire@aol.com.

The ball is in our court. Thanks to the vision of Mark and Denise Kuhn, 10 million people who watched CBS on July 9, 2017, know that Charles City is a “tennis town.”

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