Austin Needs Tennis Courts

RECEIVED Mon., March 7, 2005

Dear Editor,
    I am responding to "Neighbors Call Foul on Tennis Center Expansion" [News, Feb. 11]. I am an avid Austin tennis player. I can tell you firsthand these extra courts are definitely needed. The article stated that the South Austin Tennis Center courts are only used 50% of the time. What wasn't mentioned was the fact that SATC is required by the city to keep several courts open daily for walk-on players. These courts are not to be used by the pros for lessons or for league matches. Sheryl Behne, the director of tennis at SATC, said she could easily fill every one of her courts if she were not held to this requirement by the city. Empty courts during the morning and afternoon hours Monday through Friday are no different then empty soccer fields or rec centers during the same time periods.
    The Galindo Elementary Neighborhood Association suggests adding more courts at the public schools as an alternative, but they can't even fit enough portable buildings to accommodate the number of students, let alone adding tennis courts. Regarding the flooding, according to the parks department engineers, the new landscaping would actually alleviate some of the flooding problems. And there is no comparing a few extra courts with the magnitude of the Waco Regional Tennis Center.
    Tennis is a family-oriented sport for a lifetime. Adults and children of all ages and skill levels can enjoy the game, and there are many great community programs, too. I can't imagine a better possible neighbor than the SATC. In fact, the Chronicle named the SATC the best public tennis facility several times.
    I completely appreciate the concerns expressed by GENA; we also want it to retain its integrity, but this is our neighborhood too, where we work, live, and play. Would you prefer a Wal-Mart instead?
Thank you,
Stephanie Arena
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