Tennis, Anyone? In Westport, the answer is a resounding yes. Thumb through the Westport Parks and Rec Spring and Summer program book and you'll see seven pages dedicated to tennis. There are 108 classes for men, women and children. Players whack balls for over 12 hours a day on Westport courts seven days a week.
Karen Puskas, Westport's P&R program manager, is responsible for solving the jigsaw puzzle that coordinates all of the programs over 27 town courts. Puskas says about 1,200 people participated in town programs in 2009, and some played in more than one. In all, over 1,700 slots were filled in tennis programs. "It has grown tremendously over the years,'' says Puskas, who has worked in Westport for 13 years. When Puskas started, fewer than 700 residents played in town programs.
Puskas said one of her objectives when she came to Westport was to increase tennis offerings. "It's easy to say you'll increase programs, but it's not easy to do,'' Karen says. "I had to prove there was a need for it." Children can begin receiving instruction as young as age 3. Programs for adults are available during the week and weekends. One other component behind the popularity of the programs is cost. Children pay as little as $36 for five 45-minute sessions. Adults can receive instruction for $66 for two 85-minute lessons.
"Price is the big difference between us and private clubs,'' Puskas says. "The instructors have been there for a while and players get very good group instruction. You get a good bang for the buck." Puskas works with Dave Kardas, the town's Director of Tennis, and Dan DeVito, the town's Operations Supervisor, to coordinate the programs and leave space available for public play. "It's hard to grow any more,'' Puskas says. "Any more and we'd taking away from public play."
The fitness benefits from tennis help the players, but the programs also help Westport. "Last year we generated about $125,000 for the town,'' Puskas says. If you're considering playing this summer, register now. Many programs have already been closed.
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