New tennis center opens

By Trina Trice

Ted Jackson has played tennis for more than 30 years.

Now 58-years-old, Jackson manages to get a few games in with friends at Independence Park on Thomas Road.

"It's good exercise and I love the game," he said.

Jackson and other enthusiasts can now venture to the Clayton County International Park, also called The Beach, and take advantage of the 17 tennis courts that make up the new Tennis Center.

The center houses 16 regulation courts and one championship court with a pro-shop and clubhouse.

An open house is Saturday and will feature free tennis skill games with prizes for players at all levels. A fast serve contest and tours of the facility can also be expected for the event.

Scott Mitchell, the center's tennis director, is working on building a league of players.

"We are striving to build a more active and networked tennis community in the Clayton County area," he said. "Now that we have a certified tournament facility, more qualified players will look at Clayton County as a serious tennis venue. Also, the elevation of the quality of our tennis facilities provides new players with an optimum experience for learning. We are very excited to host the community at our open house."

Nat Lee of Jonesboro is an older player, having played since he was in high school. When he plays these days, he usually goes to the Lee Street tennis courts.

"I've been playing at it," he said. "I'm not good, but I love the game."

Lee plans on checking out the new facility, he said.

"I would go to see how the new surface is," Lee said while taking a break from a Tuesday evening game. "I'd like to see them fix the surface of the ones they already have."

Jackson doesn't think he'll make it to the Tennis Center, he likes to stay on the Fayette-Clayton county lines because it's closer to home for him and his playing buddies.

"I think (Independence Park) needs renovating?some upgrades," he said. "I'm not interested in going on the other side of town. Instead of building a new one, they should just invest in maintaining the ones they already have."

Clayton County currently has 57 tennis courts, including the 17 at the Tennis Center.