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Friends of Tennis

November 21, 2018

Paul Maulden, a member of the Friends of Tennispassionately explains the problems plaguing thecurrent tennis courts at Cunningham Park. Photo by Marlana Ward.

By Marlana Ward & Tamas Mondovics

Though Mountain City may still have to wait for new public tennis courts, city officials along with local community members and organizations affirmed their support for the project at the November Board of Mayor and Aldermen meeting. Local tennis enthusiast and representative of the newly formed Friends of Tennis group, Paul Maulden came to the meeting prepared to share with the board the information he had been asked to collect by the group at a previous council meeting. Maulden presented those on the board with multiple sheets of figures about the town’s present lack of tennis facilities and the estimated costs to construct two well-made courts for public use. While discussions amongst town citizens and officials about plans for the courts at Cunningham Park have been ongoing since 2017, the project met a significant setback due to the scheduling of grant applications.

“We were hoping to apply in 2018,” Maulden explained in an interview before Monday night’s meeting. “However, that deadline passed by and the next opportunity to apply will be in 2020.”

Even though this type of setback might discourage some, Maulden being a self proclaimed optimist sees the bright side to the delay.

“The applications will be published in January 2020 with a return deadline of April 2020. It is a little of “hurry up and wait,” but some actions have to take place before applying for the Local Park and Recreation Fund grant. These include at least three public meetings, a recreational needs assessment, and demonstrations of civic and non-governmental group support.”

When it comes to local support, Maulden and the Friends of Tennis have been well received at various club gatherings as they visit to share their passion for the project. “I recently went to the Newcomers Club meeting on Harbin Hill, and they were so receptive to listening,” Maulden shared in the interview.

“Instead of waiting for the next month’s meeting, they wanted to sign up right then as contacts and are presently waiting to be re-contacted to help in any tennis efforts. I am also scheduled to speak to the Butler Ruritan Club who have contacted us and are willing to donate a tennis court net they have to help the project.”

At the city council meeting on Monday, November 13, the Board of Mayor and Aldermen expressed their support for the project and the need for public courts to be provided to the community. They encouraged Maulden to continue pursuing the project and funding for the tennis courts.

When asked if the current courts at Cunningham Park could be temporarily patched since the new courts would not be installed until late summer 2021 if all went well with grant applications, Maulden immediately voiced his concern about the current courts, “Those courts were not constructed correctly in the beginning, and any money spent on those courts is money tossed.”

Maulden then proceeded to give a visual example of the grading problems with the existing courts at Cunningham Park by having JCHS Tennis Coach Zach Pittman stand on a five-gallon bucket to demonstrate the differences in height on the court.

Pittman also shared at the meeting how the JCHS Tennis Team could assist in the project: “Principal Lisa Throop has stated that any sports team must participate in community service. I can have my players help do part of the work on the new courts.”

Due to the concerns of the present state of the tennis courts at Cunningham Park, Mayor Kevin Parsons recommended the courts to be officially closed, and a sign posted to inform residents that the courts were in the process of being renovated. Parsons also mentioned that another temporary option for the court during the application process is to clean it up take the nets down and reseal the surface, so the “parcel could be used temporarily as a skate park.

To allow for community members who wish to be involved in the project now through donations, Maulden asked if the town could open an account specifically for the tennis court project. Parsons suggested that a special line item being made within the city budget for the project and ensured that City Recorder Sheila Shaw would make sure that any donations made toward the project would go directly to that fund.

Maulden also suggested that a simple letter supporting the project is also appreciated. Those wishing to learn more about the Friends of Tennis and the new court project may call Paul Maulden at 727-4302 for information.