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Fowler's tennis program serves more than just fees


After complaints, more free time added to courts



IMG_6895_w
Michael Greene, director of tennis at Fowler Park's tennis center, plays a match with Carl Davis. ALDO NAHED/Staff. (click for larger version)
January 14, 2014
FORSYTH COUNTY, Ga. — Michael Greene, director of tennis at the Fowler Park Tennis Center, knows what it takes to be a great tennis player.

"Having some natural ability is part of the formula, but having that internal drive, that desire is important," Greene said. "I like to teach, without even saying it to people, the love of the game first."

Greene, who has about 25 years of experience teaching tennis, said depending on where players are on the spectrum of skill — physical and mental — he'd like to coach them and meet the players' goals.

Fowler Park's tennis center is the county's latest private lesson program, launched in the fall last year.

The tennis program, although in its infancy, has come under a lot of criticism, according to Forsyth County commissioners.

Commissioners Todd Levent and Cindy Jones Mills have said emails complaining that charging to use the tennis courts at the county park are "double taxation."

"It was a shock for people," Levent said.

But Greene said he's offering much more to county residents and so far, many have taken notice. About 70 yearly memberships, or about 80 families, have already signed up at Fowler.

Greene said in addition to managing the 12 courts, they also re-string tennis rackets and offer lessons.

"People have been telling us they are really happy we are here," Greene said.

The county entered into the three-year agreement with Knoxville, Tenn.-based Annacone Tennis last year. There are no costs to the county to run the programs at Fowler Park; however, there are revenue streams that will be bounced the county's way when it comes to lessons and camps.

The county gets 10 percent of gross revenue over $40,000.

The county is also guaranteed minimum monthly payments of $1,000 and $75 monthly water payments.

The courts are open 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. Monday through Friday; 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. Saturday and 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. Sunday.

Annacone has since renewed their commitment to the county, invested thousands of dollars in improving the courts and have more recently changed their pay structure to allow more free play to county residents.

Before and after pro-shop hours (before 9 a.m. and after 9 p.m.), the courts don't cost anything and all day Friday, players who walk up can check in and if there's a court available, they will play at no cost.

"We are trying to demonstrate to the community that we are here and that we are a partner with them," Greene said. "We are tennis players, and we just want to provide a service to people."

For more information, email fowlerparktennis@gmail.com, visit www.fowlerparktennis.com or call 404-844-7844.

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    Fowler Park Tennis Center
    January 22, 2014 | 05:13 PM

    This article by Aldo Nahed did nothing to assuage my anger and disappointment with the commissioners of Forsyth County. They have chosen to doubly tax the tennis playing citizens of Forsyth County by allowing Annacone Tennis to run its business from our county facility. "Revenue streams will be bounced the county's way"...That is the bottom line. The county found a way to generate income at the expense of a single segment of the population. What's next? A booth to collect fees on the greenway? A pro skateboarder charging kids to use the skate park? Perhaps a per child fee for families using the playground? The taxpayers are being punished and not allowed to use the facilities that our tax dollars built. The comment that the facilities are free before and after pro shop hours is absurd! I can bring my 8 year old son to the courts to learn the sport I love between dawn and 9am, or between 9pm and 10pm when the lights go out! Insane! Also, what improvements to the facilities? New signage advertising Annacone Tennis? Build out on the Pro shop so the employee hired to police the court has a nice place to sit? Thousands were spent, but not to benefit the taxpaying citizens of Forsyth County. I have chosen to boycott the facility and I hope other tennis players will do the same. Additionally, I submit that the commissioners should do the right thing and not renew the contract with Annacone Tennis and give the Fowler Courts back to the citizens that paid for them!

    Jill Bagwell
    Cumming
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