Opinion: Seal Beach Tennis Center serves community

The City of Seal Beach took ownership of Old Ranch Tennis Club during fiscal year 2004-2005. The transfer was part of the agreement leading to the development of the Seal Beach Towne Center, which many of us call the Target Center.

There was a good deal of trauma felt by those who played tennis at Old Ranch since it was a private club which overnight became a public facility-the Seal Beach Tennis Center. Some questioned whether tennis play would be viable operating as a public recreational facility. Others felt the grounds and courts were unique and attractive and would function well under the right management.

The first 10 years were a bumpy ride it must be admitted. The City of Seal Beach had never owned and operated a venue like this. Different approaches to hiring and compensating a tennis manager were tried.

The facility saw at least four different managers with different approaches, some better than others, but a solid direction was not forthcoming. Financially the City was committed and the funding needs were not so great as to create a crisis so the center remained open. Tennis players continued to play at SBTC but attendance was slowly declining.

Yet another new hiring process for a tennis manager began a little over two years ago and a woman named Brenda Danielson was selected. She took over SBTC in July 2014. In less than two years at the helm Brenda has proven she was a good choice and has demonstrated the importance of strong leadership and management skills.

Brenda has brought energy and activity to the tennis facility. She knows how to innovate and is not afraid to experiment. Whereas in the past the only racquet sport played at SBTC was tennis, she has added Pickleball, a new and growing racquet sport. Where there used to be four adult tennis teams, there are now eight adult teams plus boys and girls teams. Participation is up dramatically in tennis lessons, clinics, drills, plus growth in organized play and drop-in play.

The SBTC is the home field for both Los Alamitos and Cypress High Schools Boys and Girls Tennis Teams. The public can attend these matches for free and enjoy the games and the setting. The level of high school tennis is impressive so check out the next CIF event, scheduled for the weekend of June 3,4.

In fiscal 2014-2015, SBTC produced $297,000 of revenue for the City. This amount is a 30% increase over the prior fiscal year for which we can thank Brenda’s management once again. At this revenue rate the operating costs of the facility are fully covered which is rare for a municipal recreation or park facility.

The sources of revenue are varied and include equipment sales, apparel, racquet stringing, food, court usage, camps, tournaments, league play, member fees and other categories. Member fees are often misunderstood. If SBTC is public what is a member? A member is a player who wishes to pay a monthly fee for unlimited playing time plus access to a few amenities such as on-site fitness center, locker room, showers, and reduced prices on apparel and other items.

With a competent and enthusiastic leader at the helm, the Seal Beach Tennis Center is enjoying excellent success and is well positioned for an even brighter future.

The City of Seal Beach Council Members are to be commended for their dedication and support of a concept that needed time to mature.

The Seal Beach Tennis Center is a community recreational facility being utilized not only by City of Seal Beach residents but also residents from the surrounding communities of Los Alamitos, Rossmoor, Cypress, Long Beach, Huntington Beach and others nearby. So grab your racquet and check it out at 3900 Lampson Ave, 90740.