When tennis coach Bob Phelps moved to Carson City from Santa Clara, Calif., five years ago, his tennis buddy said all he'd find was a Pizza Hut and a Chinese restaurant, let alone any tennis.
"I told him he was wrong - the Chinese place went out of business," joked Phelps, then grinned as he prepared Monday to cut the ribbon in a ceremony that opened two newly refurbished tennis courts at the Boys & Girls Club of Western Nevada.
The courts, renovated using donated labor and materials from both local and out-of-town companies, were the dream of Phelps and a Boys & Girls Club groundskeeper, who wondered why such prime real estate in the heart of the city couldn't be brought back to life.
It took three years and a lot of phone calls, but the ceremony did justice to the achievement. A gaggle of children gathered behind the new fence and looked on in wonderment as 7-year-old Mercedes Fuentes rallied with 84-year-old Bill Goni, showing that tennis is indeed a sport for the ages. Everyone applauded the local business people who had donated their services as they walked onto the court. Balloons lined the dark green perimeter fence. Refreshments were served.
But the theme of the hour was bringing tennis to the children of the Boys & Girls Club. Crystal Honyumptewa, who works at the club and attends college, joined when when she was 12.
"I played on the old courts, but it was gravel the whole time," she said. "But Bob was fun to learn from."
Goni, a Carson native who learned to play tennis in 1966, took up the sport because he couldn't stand sitting around in a government desk job after chasing sheep all his life. He played at 6 a.m. every day for four years, and still plays several days a week.
"The courts feel beautiful, really nice," said Goni.