Julie Wishing felt that Murfreesboro needed something to improve the tennis scene.
She noticed that people weren’t playing tennis until they got to middle school and, as a result, they fell behind other schools.
When her children — Kyle and Brianna Wishing — started playing tennis at Siegel High School she came across Bill Neal, who was working with Oakland High School and feels the same way Wishing does about tennis.
They joined forces and decided to create the Murfreesboro Tennis Association. In August the association will turn 3.
“We both just saw a real need, and it was really more with the kids,” she said. “At that point the Racquet Club was still doing a lot with adults. There’s a huge need with adults, too, but adults will find a way if they need to.
“The ones who are new to town need somewhere to plug in,” added Wishing, the MTA president. “Kids don’t know where to go.”
MTA wants to improve the tennis environment for everyone in the community. The most pressing need has been a lack of facilities in the area.
Finding an open court can be an adventure, especially for high school tennis teams, which often have to hold meetings to determine who can play and when at Old Fort Park. Oakland and Riverdale had to play home matches at MTSU because of lacking facilities.
Those days appear to be over for area high schools. After petitioning and working, MTA got its way when the Budget and Finance Committee approved funding for a more than $1.2 million, 16-court outdoor facility at Old Fort Park.
“One of our objectives was to improve tennis in the Rutherford County area,” said Neal, MTA vice president. “We’re extremely pleased to get 16 courts. Rather than having four or five courts at each high school we decided this would be better. It’s good to have a central location.”
The courts were needed as the city decided it would not renew the 40-year-old agreement, leaving tennis buffs in a bind.
“It’s going to help with Spring Fling tremendously,” Neal said. “We can play more matches.”
Rutherford County Schools is responsible for construction of the courts, but the city is responsible for upkeep of the 16-court facility that’ll be located next to the Ag Center at Old Fort Park.
WORKING FOR AN INDOOR FACILITY
While MTA is excited about the new outdoor facility, it thinks Murfreesboro needs an indoor facility.
People such as former MTSU men’s tennis coach Dale Short, who acts as an adviser to MTA, feel that an indoor facility would bring money to the economy.
“It could bring money to the local economy if the city hires the proper personnel to run it,” Short said. “We’ve gotten a lot of mileage out of the facilities.”
According to Short, it would cost around $250,000 per indoor court. Short, though, thinks an indoor facility could bring tournaments to the city, which would bring people and their money.
“It could pay for itself with tournaments,” Short said.
Wishing also thinks an indoor facility would benefit Murfreesboro.
“We are thrilled to have those 16 courts, but we’d like to have an indoor facility,” Wishing said. “We’re going to do what we can to raise funds for that. At this point I’m being told it would be privately funded. (MTA) will be working on that.
“I’m hoping once that gets going it’ll run kind of like a golf course runs where there’s a pro there, and (MTA) would be a support system,” she added. “We would help them run or maybe completely run tournaments.”
One of MTA’s goals is to get children interested in tennis. To do this MTA uses a format called QuickStart in which the goal is to make tennis easier for children ages 10 and under. The court sizes, racquet sizes, balls, scoring system and net height are different than regular tennis.
“The idea is to bring (tennis) down to the size of kids,” Wishing said. “(United States Tennis Association) feels like they’re losing the young kids in tennis, and soccer’s really growing. … They were afraid they were losing young players. Anybody can go out and play soccer. If you’re running you’re participating.
“They’ve tried to bring it down to the size of the kids and make it more user friendly,” she added.
MTA wants to make QuickStart available to children in the area.
“I’m hoping to get it in (elementary) schools this (year),” she said. “I’m in the process of finding out (how to get it in schools). I’ve had teachers who are friends and want to get it in their schools. My plan is to take schools I have a personal connection with and start there. It’s probably four, five or six schools.”
This program would help Murfreesboro’s chances of not falling behind in tennis.
For more information about Murfreesboro Tennis Association, contact Wishing at email@example.com or Neal at firstname.lastname@example.org. Also visit www.murfreesborotennis.com.