John Drew Smith Tennis Center -- Municipal Facility of the Year
By Mark Winters
In 1980, the John Drew Smith Tennis Center was dedicated in honor of a legendary Macon, Ga., instructor who had recently passed away and had been instrumental in the development of the 24-court facility. Smith would be proud to know how far the tennis center that bears his name has come.
The facility is a haven for all sorts of programming for juniors and adults, and it is renowned for hosting local, state, and national events. The activity is so extensive, and the atmosphere is so conducive to tennis, that RSI has named the John Drew Smith Tennis Center our 2005 Municipal Facility of the Year.
“They do a great job of programming,” says Kirk Anderson, the USTA’s director of Recreational Coaches and Programs. “And the whole place is all about tennis. It’s a real friendly place to be.”
“For a city our size [population 97,000], we have a huge number of programs,” says Carl Hodge (right), tennis director at JDS, which is home to the Macon Tennis Association. For instance, Hodge and Program Coordinator Sarah Witherspoon run an after-school program with a homework component, along with a Player Development Program. They’ve also partnered with schools, organized Rally Ball, and even run a church program that brought 120 people to USA Tennis 1-2-3.
“I started to look at organizations and ask, why can’t we market to them?” says Hodge. For Hodge and the JDS, the answer always seems to be, “We can.”
John Drew Smith Tennis Center’s tips for success
- Be as creative and innovative as you can be.
- Let quality, not quantity, be your motivation.
- Be persistent and stay the course.
See all articles by Mark Winters
About the Author
Mark Winters, who played college and professional tennis, is a former Junior Davis Cup team and college coach. He spent time as a USTA clinician nationally and in the Middle East. He has written about the game for more than 25 years, with his stories appearing in Tennis Week and Florida Tennis as well as the Los Angeles Times and a host of international publications.