It has to be asked right off the racket. Is tennis relevant in 2010? Long gone are the days of John McEnroe, Jimmy Connors and Pete Sampras capturing our attention. Even the Williams sisters' act is growing tiresome.
Tennis season is similar to a golf season without Tiger. Tune in for the four majors, and you probably did not miss much. It took an unfathomable John Isner (American) 70-68 fifth set victory in the French Open to shake the tennis world.
For the first time in several years, the coffee pot talk on Wednesday and Thursday and finally on Friday was reserved for the marathon match. It sure beat rehashing the Williams sisters' attire again. Maybe tennis is making a comeback.
Like many other sports, tennis has its pros and cons. Let's start with the cons and march forward.
There is a stigma associated with tennis. Perhaps it is an unfair one but many perceive tennis players, and the game in general, as a tad hoity-toity. Just look at the Wimbledon dress code as example 1a. Maybe we should just blame that one on the Brits.
A problem facing Tulsa tennis is the heat. Don't get me wrong, nothing is worse than weather talk. We all know sweat when we smell it, but it bears mentioning. Tennis is commonly played outdoors (for now -- see below).
Finally, tennis faces the same issue many other sports face: You either grew up a fan and participate, or you assume it is too late to jump in.
However, tennis gives the best of both worlds. It is one of the few activities that double as a spectator and participation sport. That's right. You can enjoy watching the world's best one day and pick up a racket and whack some balls the next.
It is also inexpensive. Now I know some tennis snobs (warned you about them) just sighed. However, if you are not planning on joining the circuit and playing tournaments, it is relatively cheap to play a few matches here and there.
For years, I played on LaFortune's golf course. Many times, an errant shot would inch me closer to the tennis courts. To be honest, I'd hack out and move along. The scenery sure was nice along the track but nothing else caught my eye.
Thanks to the efforts of a dedicated group, we need to pay attention to the tennis facility at LaFortune Park, too.
On Oct. 3, Phase III commences on the LaFortune Park Tennis Center. The first two phases resurfaced the nine existing courts and added nine more.
Phase III is the grand slam. Once completed, LaFortune's tennis compound will not only include 24 courts but also an indoor complex featuring three courts. You read that correct, we're getting fancy indoor courts.
The work being done by Head Teaching Pro and Director of Operations Melissa McCorkle and her staff at LaFortune is raising eyebrows across the region. A couple of weeks ago, the not-quite-finished-but-still-really-nice complex hosted a USTA Missouri Valley junior tournament. Imagine when the crowned jewel is unveiled.
Several courts are marked with blue lines. These are designed to shrink the coverage area for kids. The youth programs and teaching clinics are extremely popular.
It is estimated approximately 16,000 people use the courts during the season. For now, the tennis season runs from March through November. Even hardcore players take the winter off.
The previously mentioned junior tournament is estimated to have injected a quarter of a million dollars into the economy.
Embarking on a task this enormous does not come with a small price tag. The third phase will cost a little more than $2 million. Gulp.
The completed structure will house the pro shop, administrative offices, lounge, locker-rooms and restroom facilities. Oh, and three indoor courts utilizing state-of-the-art construction.
Do not let the fancy digs fool you; this will be a friendly atmosphere, almost family like.
Rest assured, if you have an inkling to give it a try, the group at LaFortune will make it easy. No racket, no shoes, no tennis apparel? No problem.
Just pick up the phone and call (918)496-6230. But don't show up shirtless and shoeless please.
They are ready to help. Or better yet, stop by the "shoe box" for a chat. Eight teaching pros and a knowledgeable work staff are ready to volley ideas with you.
There are no membership fees, so you can breath easy. But maybe there should be. The public can partake in drills, private lessons or group lessons.
Several local high schools use the courts to practice their ground strokes. They work closely with most other tennis facilities in town to ensure every potential player in Tulsa has a court.
It is hard to imagine getting a court for an hour and a half for only $2.50 per person or $2.00 per person for doubles.
Special thanks to Tulsa County Parks' Frances Dodson. While many "suits" were sucking A/C, she was showcasing the grounds to drum up interest. She is a wealth of knowledge and a driving force behind the venture.
Visit lafortunetennis.com for more information.
Share this article: