2009 Public Park of the Year: Darling Tennis Center
The term “public park” generally evokes images of … unkempt municipal courts, few, if any, amenities, and no real ambience.
Then there’s our choice for RSI’s Public Park of the Year: the Amanda and Stacy Darling Memorial Tennis Center in Las Vegas. The center, which opened in September 2005 as part of the 110-acre Kellogg Zaher Sports Complex, is the largest public outdoor tennis complex in Nevada, with 23 lighted hard courts and a stadium court that seats more than 2,000. The courts stay busy, and the sport keeps growing, with comprehensive programming for all levels of play.
“I’m particularly proud of our developmental programs,” says Sandy Foley, the center’s coordinator. “It’s very inexpensive, very community-based. We get a lot of kids from neighborhood schools, then their mothers, fathers, siblings and friends get involved.”
In a city that has made tourism an art form, the Darling Tennis Center stands out as an athletic attraction, says Ryan Wolfington, executive director of USTA-Nevada. “It has been the single best contribution to tennis in the Las Vegas tennis community,” he says. “My guess is the Darling Tennis Center alone will increase tennis participation by 20 percent. The biggest impact for the community is the economic development, bringing in regional, national and international tournaments.”
And, says Greg Mason, senior director of sales for HEAD/Penn Racquet Sports, which has worked with the facility to put on special events, the staff provides an outstanding experience. “The service level is second to none,” he says. “Here, you get the feeling of being in a private club. You have top-shelf courts, a stadium court, everything — and they operate so efficiently.”
Tips for success
- “Reach out to schools and the community,” says Foley. “That’s where your players will come from.”
- Be beginner-friendly. “Come if you can’t play. We’ll teach you,” she says.
- Get quality instructors. “The first experience should always be with your best instructor.”
See all articles by Mary Helen Sprecher
About the Author
Mary Helen Sprecher is the managing editor of Sports Destinations Management Magazine, a niche business-to-business publication for planners of sports travel events, in addition to being an RSI Contributing Editor. She is the technical writer for the American Sports Builders Association and works as a newspaper reporter in Baltimore City.