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Community Tennis Association Forming, Commissioner Nash says, "Keep moving forward"

Posted March 18, 2015  07:45 am | 1 comment

County Economic Development Director, Glenn Hunter, addresses the County Sports Advisory Council. He told the Council that having tennis facilities is a quality of life issue.

COLUMBIA COUNTY, FL – Last night, Columbia County's Sports Advisory Council heard from County Economic Development Director, Glenn Hunter. The Sports Advisory Council is the sounding board and clearing house for all sports and activity groups that utilize the County's Southside Sports Complex and the extensive network of County community centers and parks. A grass roots tennis committee is looking to bring a county-wide tennis program to Columbia County, as well as a world class tennis facility for tournament and recreational use.

A Quality of Life Issue

Mr. Hunter told the Sports Advisory Council that the lack of tennis facilities and a tennis program in Columbia County is a quality-of-life issue.

Talking about the numerous facilities in the Alachua County/Gainesville area he said, "We have an awful lot of people going to Gainesville to play at some of the facilities down there."

Mr. Hunter said Lake City is willing to invest $150,000 in a tennis facility.

Lake City, City Manager Wendell Johnson, who claims to be a tennis aficionado, without warning, without any community input, and without the approval of the City Council, recently turned the City's lit tennis courts into a parking lot.

Mr. Hunter told the Committee, "There are hundreds of leagues that could participate and play. We believe that we can make it very successful... we're not sure about how we are supposed to operate."

Dolly Robinson of the grass roots committee told the Sports Advisory Committee, "I'm a longtime tennis enthusiast and a longtime enthusiast of Columbia County."

Tennis supporter, Dolly Robinson

Ms. Robinson explained that years ago when tennis came up at the tournaments in which she participated people would ask, "Lake City – what do you do, put a net up across U.S. 90?"

She said she answered, "We have tennis courts."

Then she told the Committee, "But right now, the way things are, we would have to put up a net across US 90."

"We've gone backwards"

Ms. Robinson held up pictures of the two remaining public tennis courts and said, "You can't say that they are really playable. In fact, they're dangerous. So we've actually gone backwards as far as tennis goes in our community."

Former County Commissioner and Columbia County legend, James Montgomery, encouraged the County to get involved. He said that in the past, whenever the County needed a sports facility "the County stepped forward and did it."

Mike Null, a grass roots committee member and avid tennis player told the Committee, "Tennis is a year-round sport, there are no seasons, and there are people playing at all ages and all levels. We are anxious about being able to bring this to Columbia County at some point." He added, "Dolly Robinson beats me all the time."

Mr. Null said that he is a tournament player and has played throughout the state. He explained that most of the facilities in which he plays are municipal owned facilities.

Mr. Null said, "They become an attractant to their communities. They compete for these events."

The chairman of the Sports Advisory Council, Commissioner Bucky Nash, told the tennis committee to keep working and come back with a plan which includes financing.

Commissioner Nash continued, "We'll throw it around here and will make a recommendation to the Tourist Development Council, if it will go that route, or the County Commission, if it goes that route."

"We're 99% sure it will be a County owned facility. It's important that we know how much it will cost to maintain," he said.

Commissioner Nash concluded the conversation telling the grass roots committee to come back anytime, but suggested they come back when they had additional information to present.


After the meeting Mike Null advised the Observer that the Tennis Association is looking for charter members.

Ms. Robinson emailed, "We are in the process of establishing a Community Tennis Association to include all of Lake City and Columbia County.  We welcome and encourage everyone to join and have an active voice in the development of a County-wide community tennis facility and program."

Comments  (to add a comment go here)

On March 23, 2015, Disgusted in Fort White, wrote:

If the Sports Council wants to promote tennis at county facilities they could start by spending a couple of hundred bucks at the hardly ever used tennis courts in Fort White. A backboard would be a very helpful addition as there is a dearth of partners to play with in Fort White. A clinic and or league like other counties who want to support a particular activity would be at least help gauge interest in the area. We have the unused facilities, why not invest a little something less than $150,000.00. That would really be money well spent, especially if the over 50 set were included!

Disgusted in Fort White

This work by the Columbia County Observer is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial 3.0 United States License.


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