Letter: Tennis needs to be a part of rec center plans

Published 10:26 am Thursday, March 17, 2016

Tuesday night I attended the rec center forum and I actually spoke at the forum, something I have never done before or ever thought I would be doing. But I had to.

I do not feel that the Vision 2020 Rec Center survey done in 2013, which solicited information from 500 people, is an accurate assessment of what our Austin community needs. (And just for the record, my youngest daughter reminded me that none of the is actually a need; it is all a want. Food, shelter and clothing are needs. Nice facilities to workout and play in are all wants.)

The current $35 million rec center plan does not include indoor tennis courts. The reason that was given to me in an email, and also at the meeting, by Rec Cec Center Committee Co-Chair Matt Cano was, “The results of our community needs survey conducted in 2013 didn’t have indoor tennis courts facilities as a community need. Along with our community needs assessment survey, the Community Rec Center partners, the YMCA, Austin Public Schools, Riverland College and the City of Austin didn’t address indoor tennis as a need either.”

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In regards to the survey, none of the questions asked in the survey actually addressed tennis. Question 2 came close — it mentioned court sports — and 28-40 percent showed a great deal of interests, depending on who was being asked. Question 9 dealt with a list of services and activities that could be provided for youth and teens, keeping in mind all existing YMCA programs would still be in place.

Well, 56 percent of those surveyed wanted programs and activities for kids and families.

Tennis is a lifelong sport for the young and old and a great family activity. Remember now, Question 9 said all existing YMCA programs would still be in place at the new facility. Right now, there is one indoor tennis court left at the Y. Over the years, the gymnastics program has taken over the other two indoor courts.

Question 13 lists the amenities the new rec center would include and asks how likely you would be to continue your Y membership or get a membership. It does not even mention indoor tennis courts as being part of the new rec center. I think that clearly shows that even though a survey was conducted, the rec center committee already had their agenda figured out before the survey was done and this agenda did not include indoor tennis courts. Therefore, they were not giving it as an option.

There is still a thriving and committed tennis community in Austin. The decision makers are choosing to ignore this population. In April 2015, the Austin Daily Herald conducted a poll on which facilities the community would like to see in the new rec center. Of the 362 people voting, tennis courts ranked 20 percent, batting cages 14 percent and gymnastics space 4 percent. Batting cages were provided in the dome and gymnastics space will be included in the new rec center. Indoor tennis courts are not part of the plan at all. That needs to change.

Tennis is a life long sport for everyone — age, culture, gender and socioeconomic status have little impact on who can play tennis. I agree with my youngest daughter that a $35 million rec center is not a need but rather clearly a want. If the community goes ahead with building this rec center, then it needs to include at least three indoor tennis courts, though six would be ideal. The Austin tennis community will no longer be silent. If it is, that will be the end to tennis in Austin.

To read the entire survey, go to www.vision2020austin.com and click on resources.

Mona Bachmeier, Austin