Friday, December 28, 2001
Tennis center open to all but not all know it
Believe it or not, the Peachtree City Tennis Center suffers from a serious image problem.
Although it is open to the public, most citizens believe it's a private tennis club because it looks too nice, says Virgil Christian, executive director of the Peachtree City Development Authority, which operates the center. And its location, at the entrance of the Planterra Ridge subdivision, has helped create the misconception that the center is an amenity for Planterra residents only, Christian added.
But for as little as $3-4 an hour, any local resident can play on the center's hard or clay courts on weekdays, though the rate rises to $3.50 and $5 on the weekends.
When Christian tells citizens the facility is public, he usually gets comments along the lines of "I can't believe it It looks too nice!"
Since opening in 1995, the facility has received state and national accolades. It was named the top tennis facility in the nation in 1997 and the top facility in the state in 1999.
In addition to offering hourly rates, the center also offers a variety of annual memberships for active tennis players, which basically allows for them to pay their court fees in advance, Christian said. That also helps the center have a reliable income from which to compile its budget each year, he added.
"That way, we can deliver the best quality and service to the residents of Peachtree City," Christian said.
Annual memberships at the center are $200 for juniors, $300 for seniors, $500 for individuals and $750 for entire families. Currently, the club has 650 active memberships, and that has helped attract some of the top tennis professionals in the country, Christian said.
"You have to have a stream of revenue to make decisions on personnel and maintenance, Christian explained.
Christian noted that the tennis center's other main source of revenues is from the city's hotel-motel tax. To that end, he supports the efforts of the local hospitality industry, particularly by using the tennis center to attract tourists to stay over the weekend, when local hotels generally experience a slowdown.
"We want to bring in big events that help them," Christian said. "I took to them as a major partner in what we're doing."
To make sure citizens understand the center is open to the public, Christian has spoken to civic clubs and other organizations. And he mentions that fact to every reporter who inquires about the center.
But most of all, Christian wants to make sure the public gets its money's worth out of the facility.
"Just give us a shot and come out for an hour," he said.