By Katie Lamb
Freelance Writer

“If a football field were built exactly like the existing tennis courts at the Community Center at Cunningham Park in Mountain City, the fifty-yard line would be three and a half feet higher than the goal line,” says Paul Maulden, volunteer interim director, Johnson County Tennis Association (JCTA), also known as Friends of Tennis.
“The existing courts, built thirty years ago, were constructed improperly,” Maulden continues that while playing, because of the gradient issue, “you are sixteen to seventeen inches higher or lower than you should be to your opponent. Now the cracks created by the heaving asphalt are so bad that the Insurance Inspector for the City has ordered the area closed until remedied. This issue is not fixable. It requires a complete rebuild.”
The JCTA, was awarded $3000 at the 2019 Johnson County Community Foundation (JCCF) grant reception last month to help fund its endeavor.
As a tennis professional for the past twenty-five years, Maulden states,
“With zero public functional tennis courts available to its 18,000 residents, Johnson County is desperate for a remedy to a problem of many years.”
In 2016, the Republican Women of Johnson County and its then-president, Ashley Worlock, organized a fundraising dinner and silent auction to benefit Friends of Tennis. The group raised and donated $3,600.
After viewing the courts, Worlock, a resident and mother, realized the necessity of the project and prompted Maulden’s tireless efforts to obtain additional funding to bring new tennis courts to the Community Center.
John Loughrin, lawyer, Grayson Wright and McEwen of Mountain City, also a JCTA volunteer, is working on developing the Association into a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization.
“Tennis is a life-long, life-time sport, and with no exposure to tennis, the youth of Johnson County has a distinct disadvantage,” Maulden said. “According to the United States Tennis Association (USTA), the county should have one tennis court per 1246 players. “If we were among the average, we should have fourteen courts in Johnson County.”
The Friends of Tennis have been well received and have found enthusiastic support from the community, residents, business owners, and parents. “The Tennessee Local Parks and Recreation Fund  (LPRF) will match dollar for dollar any donations made to this project
IF we show strong public support for it “ Maulden affirms.  Supporters may send contributions
directly to Tennis Project, Town of Mountain City, 210 South Church St., 37683.
Maulden said, “We are also working with the USTA, for funding and guidance. The USTA grant application is extensive, and the requirements following funding are very specific and equally elaborate, including an environmental study, strict guidelines for construction by a USTA certified tennis court builder, and follow-through procedures to offer lessons, instructions and activities.”
For more information about JCTA or to donate, please contact Paul Maulden, at (423) 727-4302 or by email prmaulden@gmail.com. For more information about the LPRF, please visit www.tn.gov.