“We’ll get all our buddies together and we’ll get seven or eight of us and play different games here…Tennis is an easy thing to do and a good way to get together with friends.”
John Kirk, 18, a former MCHS student, about using the Lincoln. St. tennis courts. Kirk and his friends play on the courts twice a week, he said.
In Moffat County, typical outdoor activities talked about usually include hunting, golfing, tubing and swimming.
Ask a Craig resident, and tennis is probably not high on the list of things to do outside during the summer.
But among the younger generations, it is gaining some ground.
The Lincoln Street tennis courts have become a hot spot for some in the area. The courts, which have been updated twice in the past 15 years, are in good condition and provide an alternate form of exercise and fun for people in the area.
Craig Parks and Recreation offers tennis lessons for 8-12 year olds to help them prepare for the Parks and Rec city league. Lani Cleverly, who teaches the classes, says the kids enjoy playing a great deal.
“The group of 8,9,10 year olds, none of them have played before, but honestly they’ve picked it up quickly,” Cleverly said. “They are already doing so much better than before, and I think that’s also a result of the kids really enjoying playing, which is great.”
Cleverly grew up in Seattle and California, and brought her love for tennis from those places. She knows tennis is not what people think of when they think of Craig, but believes it is a great thing to have available to a community.
“I guess its really about the kids wondering, ‘what is tennis?’ and then us making sure we provide a good lesson program that gets them excited about coming,” she said.
“Craig is not about these type of sports. It’s more hiking and fishing and hunting, but all these kids who have done it keep signing up, so that’s something to feel good about.”
In addition to tennis lessons taking up court time, several recent Moffat County High School graduates get together and play on the courts multiple times per week.
John Kirk, who was helping Cleverly with the tennis lessons, said he and some friends, including Cleverly’s son, use tennis as a means for exercise and just to be with friends.
“We’ll get all our buddies together and we’ll get seven or eight of us and play different games here,” Kirk said. “I enjoy tennis, and so long as you aren’t playing like [professional tennis player Roger] Federer, it’s a good time. Tennis is an easy thing to do and a good way to get together with friends.”
Kirk, 18, said they play with as many as eight people, and get competitive in doubles matches, or just fool around and use tennis more as a means to hang out and have fun.
Johnny Landa, Jonathan Pando, Miguel Molina, Cecilio Gonzalez and Lupe Rodriguez are another group of MCHS grads that get together and play at the Lincoln Street courts. They said started tennis through their physical education classes in school, and have kept playing as a way to spend time with friends. But playing at Lincoln St. is better than playing on the courts at the high school.
“[Tennis is] something fun to do and stay active,” Landa said. “We played at the high school in PE and those are crappy (courts). Plus these courts have the lights so you can come out at night when its cooler and you can play for longer.”
The community courts are in good shape thanks to two resurfacings. In 1997, the courts were in bad shape with lots of cracks, according to Craig Director of Parks and Recreation Dave Pike.
The court was resurfaced then, and again in 2006, when a slip surface was put on top. The slip surface is designed to block reflection cracks from the original surface from poking through and affecting the new surface. The process was paid for through Craig’s conservation trust fund from lottery proceeds and cost $43,975, but was worth the investment, Pike said.
“It’s just a matter of doing ongoing maintenance to your facilities,” he said. “After a certain time all tennis courts need resurfacing. These are really the only two courts in town that are playable, and we want to keep at least one facility open and available to the public.”
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