Tennis courts honored nationally


BNA Bank Park’s tennis facility will receive national recognition in September, thanks to contributions  from several local community members.

The United States Tennis Association informed local members Tuesday that New Albany’s tennis courts have been selected as one of the organization’s Outstanding Facility awards for 2013.

The USTA will recognize the BNA Bank Park tennis facility during a ceremony held at 10 a.m., Sept. 1, at the Grand Hyatt hotel in New York City.  Up to four members of the local USTA group will be allowed to attend the meeting and receive the award.

“This is a community achievement,” said Jolyn Cooke, member of New Albany’s USTA committee.  “We could not have done this without the help of our entire community, from local volunteers, to the mayor and board of aldermen, as well as BNA Bank, the complex’s sponsor.”

In order to receive such national honors, the local tennis committee was required to submit an application, stating reasons why the facility deserved the award.

Qualifications that the USTA awards committee considers include the quality of the court area and surface, the quality of court enclosure and lighting, overall layout and adaptation to site, accessories and amenities, as well as evidence of green space and its maintenance.

The committee also considers the quality of programming offered at each facility, including tournaments and other offerings for both junior and adult players.

“The key to the specialness of our facilities was the work that Sam Creekmore, the architect, did,” Cooke said.  “He studied USTA specifications, as far as the requirements for the size of the courts, as well as the ammenities offered for players and visitors.  He also did a great job in including green space, which the committee considered important.”

Cooke also applauded the efforts of Bo Boman, the facility’s tennis professional, who coordinates all programs at the facility.

“He has been a great asset to us in terms of running our programs and bringing in tournaments from around the state and the region,” Cooke said.

According to Boman, the BNA Bank Park facility will be the first in Mississippi to receive a national award since the USTA began honoring sites in 1981.

“We’re pretty excited about it, because we’ve won state and regional awards before, but this is the first national honor,” Boman said.  “This award will help attract a lot more players to New Albany who will want to play here and see the facilities we have here.”

Geoff Norton, Mississippi’s representative to the USTA, said that the award will aid New Albany’s tourism efforts tremendously.

“New Albany’s facility is in both Mississippi’s USTA division, as well as the Southern USTA division, which is a combination of nine states,” Norton said.  “With this recognition, the BNA Bank Park facility will ranked in both divisions, which will allow it to host larger tournaments and bring in players from around the region.”

Bo Collins, president of BNA Bank, also applauded the local USTA committee’s efforts.

“I just think it’s great for our community to get that recognition,” Collins said.  “It just adds to the assets we have here in New Albany to attract people to our area.  It goes to show you what hard work and determination will bring you.”

Brad Clayton, another member of the local committee, agreed.

“From the standpoint of a venue, this will attract probably more juniors and adults to our courts,” Clayton said.  “When people see that label, they know our facilities are going to be nice and can trust that it’ll be a high-quality facility.  [This recognition] can definitely be a revenue-generator for our city and county.”

Cooke said that, along with the award, the local committee, consisting of herself, Clayton, Susan Morris, Sam Creekmore, Phil Nanney, Jeff Olson, Scott Dunnam and Tim Kent, also applied for a grant to help pay for the costs of finishing construction on six courts, in addition to the ten courts already built.

“We received word that we have been awarded $20,000 in grant money to go toward finishing construction,” Cooke said.

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