Letter: Tennis is alive and well at Ford Park
As a full-time Vail resident and avid tennis player, I would like to respond to a couple points raised by Kathy Palakow Kimmel’s letter about converting tennis courts to pickleball courts at Ford Park.
Tennis is not on the decline. In fact, tennis participation in the U.S. surged in 2020 with 3 million first-time players (a 44% increase over new players in 2019) and an additional 3.82 million returning players. Resorts around the country are adding to their tennis programming and even adding new courts to meet increasing demand for tennis.
The Ford Park courts are not underutilized. Local and visiting tennis players know how hard it can be to get “in” to the round robins; there are consistently wait lists for courts, clinics and lessons both for adult and junior programs. If anything, we need to expand the hours at VTC, not take away courts.
I know many local players are also waiting for the Bill Wright Clay Court tournament to come back in 2022 (hint, hint Vail Recreation District) as there haven’t been any local USTA tournaments this summer, forcing players to drive to the Front Range to compete in tournaments.
From a revenue perspective, to increase revenue from tennis, let’s consider expanding the hours and adding more programming across the Vail courts, like adult and junior multi-day camps, early-morning clinics and early evening leagues and tournaments. Currently all weekday programming occurs during business hours.
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The Longevity Project is an annual campaign to help educate readers about what it takes to live a long, fulfilling life in our valley. This year Kevin shares his story of hope and celebration of life with his presentation Cracked, Not Broken as we explore the critical and relevant topic of mental health.
In addition, the demand for tennis is year-round, and Vail lacks indoor courts that are so desperately needed. Currently there are only two indoor courts in Eagle County and tennis players are acutely aware of how difficult it is to get court time once the snow arrives. VRD should consider adding a bubble to existing courts or developing an indoor facility similar to the one in Steamboat that serves the needs of both tennis and pickleball to continue to meet the needs of both sports.