Imagine paying to play in a football/soccer/baseball game where only a limited number of the team could play, there were no stands to sit in, you had to bring water to drink, plus only one port-a-potty to use, with a sign that reads: “Beware of snakes.”
Welcome to Flower Mound’s four-court public tennis “facility” in Leonard John’s Park. There’s one additional public court located north of the baseball field in east Glenwick off FM 1171; it has two port-a-pottys.
“Compared to the other town [sports] facilities, it’s a disgrace,” said Nancy Kleckner, spokesperson for the 200-member Flower Mound Tennis Association (FloMoTa), formed two-months-ago, which is under the Northeast Tarrant Tennis (NETT) organization.
NETT has men’s, women’s, junior’s and mixed tennis leagues/programs, with 60- to 70-teams each fall and spring; and, about half that many in the hot summer months. It’s been trying to grow, but is restricted by court availability.
Mayor Tom Hayden said he’s familiar with the desire for tennis courts, but said it comes down to money.
“We would like to build something similar to what they have in Coppell,” Hayden said during the July 17 council meeting. “That one cost about $2.5 million to $3 million. To replicate that now would cost about $3.5 million. But that would take up all the parks funds that we have in a year.”
During the Aug. 7 council meeting, FloMoTa member Katie Mayer pointed out that the 2010 Master Plan listed a tennis center as ninth on the outdoor priority list; numbers one through eight are completed. In 2013, the PALS Board recommended 15 courts; USTA recommends one court per 2,000 residents– Flower Mound has more than 68,000 people.
By comparison, Southlake has 19 courts with a population of 26,000 and Coppell has 24 courts (12 from partnering with the Coppell ISD) for its 40,000 residents; the school district welcomes the usage-fee revenue.
Lewisville ISD has plenty of courts in Flower Mound, with 24 built with taxpayer money, but the district won’t allow the public to use them. LISD Athletic Director Tim Ford has said the courts are constantly in use by students– even during the summer and evening hours– and must be kept safe and clean for the students.
Running the existing Flower Mound tennis programs under a contract with the town is USTA professional Frank Ford. He and assistant Ed Thompson, USTA, conduct one adult and two junior programs, as well league play on the private Bridlewood and Wellington Courts.
“He’s doing a good job with what he’s got,” said Kleckner. “But, it’s hard to recruit top-level coaches without a facility; and, that means our upper-level students have to go elsewhere if they want to play in college, get a scholarship, or turn pro.”
FloMoTa has partnered with the nearest community tennis association in Coppell at the Wagon Wheel Tennis Center with its 12 courts and Coppell High School’s 12 courts. It runs leagues and tournaments, including wheelchair tennis tournaments and charity events, like the Rally for a Cure in October.
“We all support it,” Hayden said in a recent interview. “It’s just a matter of finding $3 million.
“We’re still considering Leonard Johns Park, but we’ve been waiting for over five weeks for an appraisal,” he said. “The town and LISD needs to get together and Dr. Rodgers has been helpful trying to work something out. And, while we’ve all been waiting for the appraisal, we’ve talked to Dr. Rodgers about other locations around town.”
He added that issuing debt from the 4B sales tax revenues for the facility cost and then manage the facility through a tennis professional as town employee, or as a contractor like Frank Ford, whose on a five-year contract from 2014, is the best way to get it done.
FloMoTA is holding an evening adult tennis mixer on Saturday, Sept. 23 at the Bridlewood tennis courts, 5000 Par Drive, from 7 to 10 p.m.
The event is to support FloMoTa’s mission to grow tennis in Flower Mound and surrounding communities for all ages and levels of players with a tennis facility. Snacks will be provided, but players should bring cold water/drinks and chairs.
For information about Flower Mound public courts, reservations can be made one week in advance in-person at the CAC, 1200 Gerault Road, or by calling 972-874-6300 during regular business hours, Monday-Friday, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.