Public park of the year: BNA Bank Park
Not every small town is lucky enough to have the support of local government and a group of dedicated volunteers to pull together a $5 million project that includes 10 new tennis courts. But then, New Albany, Miss., isn’t just any small town.
Together with the help of local businesses, USTA facility grants and donations from residents, the town now has the 40-acre BNA Bank Park, complete with a two-story tennis complex and blended lines on all 10 lighted tennis courts. In 2013, BNA Bank Park was named a USTA Outstanding Facility of the Year, and now, it’s received TI’s Public Park of the Year Award.
Prior to construction, the community had four dilapidated courts designated for high school use. But dedicated volunteers formed a committee and presented plans to the city council, and as a result, land was donated for a “sportsplex.”
“Initially, we wanted to refurbish four tennis courts,” says Jolyn Cooke, vice chairman of the New Albany Tennis Association, the local CTA. “But the idea blossomed. Now, through the tremendous efforts of countless volunteers, backed by the city council, the town has a beautiful tennis complex everyone can enjoy.”
Parks employee Megan Kirk couldn’t agree more. “Before the courts, we didn’t have much to do with tennis,” she says. “Now, the whole town can get involved.” — Robin Bateman
Tips for Success
- Hire a director of tennis. “It’s a full-time job — promoting tennis, encouraging and instructing kids, providing programs and running events,” says Cooke. The town understood this and hired Bo Bowman.
- Utilize the community. For instance, high school players hit the courts for free. But Bowman also will allow them to man tournament desks, do light custodial work, etc., to help them “pay back” tabs they may have for things like racquet stringing.
- Take advantage of social media. “I post upcoming events, photos, etc.,” says Bowman, who uses Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.
- Offer programs 24/7. Bowman wants anyone and everyone to play tennis. “You must be flexible. Everyone has a wild schedule.”
See all articles by Robin Bateman
About the Author
Robin Bateman is the site coordinator for the Tattnall Tennis Center in Macon, Ga., where she coordinates tennis program and leagues, is a tournament director, serves as a team captain, and assists junior teams competing at district, regional, and section events.
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