Brandon Tennis Association
by Mary Thompson
In this area, that term speaks volumes and speaks it loudly! But only recently.
The Brandon Tennis Association was formed in January of 2006. Prior to this, the community of Brandon provided junior tennis instruction via the Parks and Recreation Department and there were no scheduled matches or adult activity.
Brandon is a very vibrant community, very supportive of school and youth activities. While facilities were available for most sports such as football, basketball and track, the tennis amenities consisted of four courts at the middle school and two more at the local Aspen Park. Fortunately, a handful of people became part of the tennis picture in Brandon and a ‘Perfect Storm’ of tennis was created. Mark Schlekaway came from Pierre with the vision of a community tennis association, knowing what a CTA had done for Pierre; Jesse Gladdis became the tennis director for the Parks and Rec lesson program; Becky Blue, Tracie Rohlf and several others recognized the need and desire for tennis growth in their community by forming a Board of Directors; and finally and foremost, the community itself realized another opportunity to enhance Brandon’s quality of life.
By January of 2006, all these entities came together to form the Brandon Tennis Association. The goal was to expand tennis facilities and create more tennis playing opportunities for juniors, adults and families. The community was excited about the increased interest in the Parks and Rec program, about realizing an opportunity for activity for the ever-growing number of young people in their community and about recognizing the need to provide a quality experience for their student-athletes.
This enthusiasm resulted in Brandon proudly opening the new tennis facility for the summer of 2008. Four new lighted courts are situated next to the original four at the Brandon Middle School in a beautifully landscaped setting. The two courts at Aspen Park are now painted with additional lines indicating the smaller “QuickStart” format courts.
Has the tennis picture changed in this thriving community? Becky Blue shares the story of the increasing number of junior players along with the new focus of adults and families having organized activities. The BTA works closely with the USTA for support and knowledge. The group has hired a family tennis coordinator for this summer with a grant from the Brandon Community Foundation. Another first for Brandon tennis is putting hospitality high on its priority list by manning the tennis building with volunteers who can assist with questions, tips and equipment at the tennis courts. Future goals include involvement in Special Olympics, also a USTA supported program and lighting the original four courts which would create a fabulous tennis complex.
Becky emphasizes that all this was accomplished “by great community support, not ONE person”.
Congratulations, Brandon Tennis Association, on your 2010 South Dakota Tennis Achievement Award!