My wife and I are active tennis players. Since becoming year-round residents in 1999, I have played on the Tennis Center courts at least 2000 times and my wife, who is active in the team program, more than that. I have little experience with the men’s ladder and team programs. Mostly I play singles, five or so times a week, and mixed doubles with one or more compatible couples on week ends.
My assessment of our Tennis Center is based primarily on my personal experience of three factors: the playing quality of the courts, the availability of a court for my preferred playing time, and my interactions with the staff.
Court Maintenance. The courts are not always in top condition, but they are almost always playable for someone like me, and usually in very good condition at the start of the day. I have never seen the courts prepared for play looking like the picture of court 7 included in the report of the Tennis Study Group. This was on a Saturday in February and I suspect it may represent the handiwork of a less-than-adequate temporary worker at that time. Certainly, this is not the norm.
There are times when loose Har-Tru gravel on a dry court makes the surface slippery and the footing uncertain. The surface is also affected by usage during the day, becoming uneven and adding elements of chance and challenge. This is expected with any natural surface tennis court. It is seldom so extreme to justify re-grooming for other than league play.
It is my impression that the quality of court maintenance and playing condition have improved over the years. For example, I have not found any court to be unplayable because of “dead” areas where the ball doesn’t bounce in the past two years. This was once an occasional problem.
When I played on a team for two seasons, I experienced the courts of other tennis centers in our area. I don’t recall every being impressed that any one was superior to the quality of our courts. I distinctly recall being impressed that several did not meet our standards.
I have also played on Har-Tru courts out of our area during summer travels. This has only enhanced my appreciation for the quality of our courts. It is such a pleasure to return to the Pelican Landing Tennis Center. It should be noted, however, that I am a mid-level player at best. I am surely less sensitive to minor shortfalls of a playing surface than the stronger players in our midst.
Court Availability. During the summer, we full-time residents rattle around in the excess capacity of our infrastructure, free of congestion and crowds. In the winter as the snowbirds descend in flocks, things change, dramatically. Teams and other seasonal programs become active at the Tennis Center, decreasing availability of open courts. The impact of the crowd is magnified by the fact that not all are seasonal residents. Rental opportunities in Pelican landing and particularly The Colony are very attractive, providing full access to our amenities. These short-timers are here for two-four weeks of sunshine and play time in a resort-like setting. I suspect they make vigorous use of what we have to offer with high expectations of being served.
I was apprehensive about the availability of courts as this recent season approached, and skeptical of the Chelsea System. I was pleasantly surprised. I didn’t always get a court at my preferred time of 8:00 AM of course, but this happened less often than I feared. The Chelsea System proved to be effective and convenient. Apparently it can be further refined to manage this growing demand.
My kudos to the Tennis Center staff for maintaining a high standard of functionality in the face of high demand. They bore the brunt, not me. And the weather was heavenly this past season, making afternoon play a reasonable option. So I have no complaints.
Staff Interactions. We experienced turn over of staff in the early years, but when Bonnie Smith came on board 5-6 years ago, we had clearly found a winner. Her competent, calm maturity and pleasing personality were immediately apparent, and the stability she has brought to her position has strengthened the Tennis Center to our benefit.
It is not an easy job, facing the hectic onslaught in the early morning during the busy season with many demands for her attention. At times in the crowd some testiness becomes apparent. She responds with a smile and maintains her composure and pleasant demeanor, really quite remarkable. Greeting her in the morning starts the beginning of our pleasant days here, and we appreciate her.
Rodney joined the full time staff 3-4 years ago and also makes a valuable contribution. He brings years of practical experience and has impressive hands-on, handy-man skills. I credit him for the improvement I have noticed in the quality of court maintenance and playability since he came on board.
And I also appreciate our Tennis Director, Dave Richardson. For me, he is the face of Pelican Landing Tennis. More than that, he is the founding father who has built this amenity from scratch, and has directed its continuous quality improvement over the years.
As a mid-level player, I find him to be an effective teacher, a good communicator with admirable inter-personal skills. I have also observed his attentive patience with youngster and adult beginners, and his casual, even-tempered display of rather awesome tennis skills with stronger players. I am grateful for his contributions that make Pelican Landing such a valuable community.
In Summary. In my view, the Tennis Center functions well, exceeding my expectations, and keeps getting better. I highly value this amenity which adds great value to the Pelican Landing Community. Personally, as an active tennis playing couple, it is an unbelievably great value. The portion of our annual assessment that makes this amenity available to us and all residents is less than the annual cost of our tennis balls. Now that’s value!
My views are based solely on my personal experience over the past thirteen years, focusing on those factors important to me. And I am only one of 800+ Pelican Landing tennis players. So, take it for what it’s worth.
I risk sharing my personal views in this manner to bring some balance to the discussion, particularly for the benefit of residents who have no personal experience with our Tennis Center Amenity. I encourage others to join the discussion. Those who are satisfied tend to stay silent, but we are here too. –Mike Soper