Tennis, everyone? Sport making a racquet in valley | AspenTimes.com
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Tennis, everyone? Sport making a racquet in valley

Eben Harrell

A little more than 20 years ago, when short shorts, headbands and John McEnroe’s temper tantrums were all the rage, tennis was the hottest thing going around Aspen.

You weren’t a true resort resident unless you could don a pair of Donnay shoes and play a few sets.

Now it seems courses have replaced the courts, with golf the summer activity of choice for residents and visitors of the country club set. But local tennis pros and national tennis organizations agree that, thanks to the efforts of Aspen pros and grass-roots programs, tennis is back.

“Everybody views the late ’70s and early ’80s as tennis’ heyday,” said Kurt Desautels, spokesman for the Colorado chapter of the U.S. Tennis Association. “Back then it seemed you could wait hours at the park to get a court. So now that there are more opportunities to play, people assume the sport is not as popular. But our numbers show otherwise.”

Desautels pointed to a study performed by the Taylor Research Group, which last summer performed the largest ever single-sport-participation study, surveying 25,500 households across America to see who’s playing tennis. The study showed that in Colorado and across America, tennis is in the middle of a renaissance.

Nearly 500,000 people in the state, and nearly 6 million people in the United States played tennis at least once last year, according to the report.

“People often think golf is really far ahead of tennis,” surveyor Keith Storey told Tennis magazine last August. “But the difference in participation levels isn’t that big, especially among frequent players.”

Tennis pro Todd Grange, who has been teaching at the Snowmass Club for 23 years, pointed to the proliferation of tennis courts in the valley as proof of the sport’s well-being. Most significant, he said, is the city of Aspen’s decision to construct six new clay courts at Aspen’s public golf course.

“The city just built new courts. [The Snowmass Club] is laying down new courts. That wouldn’t happen unless the game was still reasonably healthy,” Grange said.

With tennis now being played at the Aspen Club, the Gant, the Aspen Meadows, the city of Aspen, the Smuggler Racquet Club, the Snowmass Club, Maroon Creek Club and River Valley Ranch, to name just a few, Grange said the sport is still a strong option for Aspen’s active population.

“People talk about the ‘death of tennis.’ It’s just too good of a game to die,” Grange said. “There’s still plenty of tennis to be had in the valley.”

Eben Harrell’s e-mail address is eharrell@aspentimes.com


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