Tennis and Glenwood: a good match
Tennis is on the rise in Glenwood – albeit with little fanfare.Classes at all levels and ages, offered by the city’s Parks and Recreation Department, are maxed out. Likewise, the clamor for private lessons from area adults has seen an upswing.Last spring, an adult tennis league was formed. The response to the new program was quick. All 70 of the available slots were filled.A big factor in the sport’s resurgence was the opening of the courts at the Glenwood Community Center two years ago. “Certainly, we have a better facility now at the Community Center. At the prime times of the day – those are busy courts.” said Phyllis Zilm, who’s been on the local tennis scene for a quarter century. “Those are beautiful, beautiful tennis courts.”For those who can afford to play on them.Community Center members have first priority to reserve a court. Fees are part of a member’s annual dues. Costs for Glenwood residents who are not members is $8. For all others it’s $9. Court times are for two hours. Players can walk on for free if the court is open.While there’s not an abundance of free public courts in the area, most towns across the valley have at least one tennis court to play on. However, the playing surface on some public courts is in poor shape.”Sayre and Kiwanis Park’s courts are in horrible condition,” Zilm said of the Glenwood courts. “The (city) patches them, but they are just appalling tennis courts.”The lone court in Silt is used but has seen better days. Courts at Metro Park await players in Rifle.
There is an abundance of courts in Carbondale. Roaring Fork High School has a pair of courts. Two more courts are available across the street from the high school at Triangle Park, located on the River Valley Ranch complex, along with a single court at The Ranch at Roaring Fork.Funding and weather explain the current state of area free courts.”This is a mountain community, not a tennis community,” Zilm explained. “Mainly, it’s because of the weather. (Glenwood) is a mountain community and people are doing 5,000 other things – bike riding and hiking and everything else. But for the summer months things are really going. We’ve got a lot of people out playing tennis.”Currently, Zilm’s Ladies Doubles league and Intermediate classes are filled. In her role as Glenwood Springs High School’s head girls tennis coach, she has seen those numbers rise as well.”For high school tennis we had 18 kids in one class (this summer),” she said. “A 1-to-18 ratio for an instructor, that’s a lot of kids. And that’s not all the high school kids. They’ll probably be a bigger session the next time.”Adults in Glenwood appear to be following in step with the younger players.Tim Brown moved here from Longmont earlier this year. Involved in tennis for more than 20 years, he wanted to start an adult league in town.”I got things started here by just calling people,” he said. “And the response was better than I thought.”Brown rapidly put four teams together of about 40-50 players, and found out that three other adult teams were forming at the same time. Together, those teams represented Glenwood in a budding adult traveling league.The United States Tennis Association (USTA) Intermountain League consists of teams, which Brown helped form, from Glenwood, Aspen, Carbondale and Snowmass. However, the USTA’s state chapter is attempting to bring teams from Steamboat and Breckenridge into the loop.
League play runs in cycles of six weeks, Brown said. Players must be 19 or older and have to become a USTA member to participate. Membership fee is $40. League fees, which include court cost and balls, is about $30, excluding travel to away matches. League teams are based on players’ skill levels, ranging from 3.0 (beginners) to 7.0 (advanced). The league’s format consists of two singles and three doubles matches.Due to the league’s early success, Brown sees a bright future for tennis in the area.Currently, Brown is accepting registrations for fall teams in Mixed Doubles, Senior and 3.5-4.5 singles players. Information on the program can be obtained on the Web at gsta.tennisusa.org or by calling Brown at (877) 220-0276.”Once the word gets out, I think there’s a lot of players in the woodwork that will join and get new people into tennis,” he said. “That’s where Phyllis Zilm is good; she can bring these people in from the lessons, then they can take those skills they learned from her and test them in leagues and tournaments.”Brown said a local tennis association will give players a voice to air future goals for the sport, along with the personnel needed to conduct tournaments.”I think forming a tennis association would be ideal,” he said. “It will give us one voice to present to the Community Center and the city, help organize leagues and tournaments and contribute and develop fundraisers.”Prior to construction of the Community Center tennis complex, the Sunlight Racquet Club was the hub for area tennis players to congregate.”When I first moved here 25 years ago the Racquet Club was in full swing,” said Zilm. “There were lots of adults playing. I’d go out every Saturday and Sunday morning, and we’d play for hours.”Interest waned as club members aged, Zilm explained. “Lots of guys were moving away, and people were having kids … that’s when it started to die off.” All that remains of the club is the old clubhouse and eight weather-worn courts, most of them taken over by weeds. The property, which is located near the Sunlight Bridge, has gone through several owners.
Additional outdoor courts, along with an indoor facility, Brown and Zilm both said, are the keys to keeping tennis strong in Glenwood. I know a bunch of tennis enthusiasts got behind the courts at the Community Center,” Brown said. “The fourth (outdoor) court is supposed to come in next year, if the funds are available. It’s high on the priority.”An indoor facility, said Zilm, allows players to maintain and improve their skills in the winter. “That way you can see all the high school and the young kids, and the adults too, keep playing all year-round.” With the idea of having an available indoor facility in mind, the city purchased a indoor tennis bubble for $8,000 four years ago, according to a 2002 Post Independent story. After much debate, along with an estimated cost of $310,000 to install the bubble, City Council opted to forego the bubble and build four outdoor courts.Costs limited the city’s budget for the project to the Community Center’s three tennis courts. Construction of the fourth court “is on the list of things were looking at,” said Glenwood City Manager Jeff Hecksel. “The question is when.” Funding, Hecksel added, is the major hurdle. He said the last estimate the city had for the completing the project was $250,000. That estimate was done more than two years ago.Area Public Tennis CourtsGlenwood Springs (7) (Sayre Park, 2; Veltus Park, 2; Community Center, 3)Sayre and Veltus parks: No reservation policy. Free.
Community Center: Reservations are required for the Community Center tennis courts, but walk-ons are OK if there’s availability. Reservations are taken a minimum of one hour and up to three days prior to play.Walk-ons are free if courts are open. All members are free, but reservations are still required. Reservations are for a period of two hours for a court. Reservations for nonmembers are $8 for residents and $9 for nonresidents. For more information call 384-6300.Carbondale (5) (Roaring Fork High School, 2; Triangle Park, 2; The Ranch at Roaring Fork, 1)Roaring Fork High School and Triangle Park: No reservation policy. Free.Public can play for free at The Ranch at Roaring Fork. No reservation is required, but residents do get priority.The River Valley Tennis Club courts are open to River Valley Ranch members only. n New Castle (none)n Silt (1) No reservation policy. Free.n Rifle (2) (Metro Park). No reservation policy. Free.n Battlement Mesa/Parachute (2) (Battlement Mesa Activities Center)Courts are open to the public when not used by the tennis club, for $7 per day.
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