To the Editor:
Almost every high school in our state that has tennis courts also recognizes that the taxpayer foots the bill for the school. Virtually every school allows tennis court use by the public, recognizing the public investment. Here in Ottawa, this is very confused. We have tennis court lights that are never usable by the public – even though our annual tax payment put them up and pays the cost of the school.
Why is this? What are the lights really up there for?
High school boys tennis almost never uses the lighting. Neither does the girls tennis team. The team practices are over by 5:30 or 6 p.m., and school matches rarely extend past the light of day.
So what are they up there for? The school teams don't use them. Are they for the public? Are they just an aesthetic touch?
Some folks conjecture that "vandals" will turn them on without playing tennis – but a simple timer switch means no real harm is done. A timer can also keep them from being on past a late hour.
I served on the board of the Peoria Tennis Association for six years as tournament director. I've played tennis in towns and cities around Illinois, and I subbed a year as tennis coach of a local high school and I played D-3 college tennis. I've seen a lot of community tennis courts.
It's sad to see such a nice facility as the high school courts in Ottawa go without lights for adults who want to play in cooler summer evenings once work is done, during prime tennis weather. It's rare. I can't think of any other single community in Illinois that's doing this.
Being in the dark is bad for taxpayers, for tennis players of all ages and bad for the sport's development and growth in Ottawa.
TODD D. VOLKER, of Ottawa