Serving it Up French Style Tennis Week Event: Paducah Stop
This week has officially been declared Tennis Week in Kentucky by Governor Matt Bevin and Paducah was the first city to kickoff the festivities!
To celebrate, Paducah Economic Development will be showcasing the tennis facilities of Paducah through the stories behind each facility and the people who helped shape them.
We’re kicking off the week by recapping the “Serving it Up French Style,” the Kentucky Tennis Tour event hosted by The Paducah Tennis Association. In honor of the French Open, the fun tennis event was designed with French flair. The event took place at Noble Park Saturday June 2 from 10 a.m. – 12 p.m.
The money raised from the event will go toward purchasing benches for the recently renovated tennis courts. Recently completed are the renovations to the Noble Park tennis courts including the “USTA blue” painted and repaved courts, a children’s court area and newly built bathrooms.
Noble Park Tennis Facility & Jane Gamble
The City of Paducah recently resurfaced the tennis courts, added a junior court, and built new bathrooms for the Noble Park tennis facility. Upcoming changes to the tennis facility include new benches for courts and a paved parking lot.
Jane Gamble, board member of the Paducah Tennis Association and dedicate advocate of tennis in the community is the face behind these renovations. She tirelessly wrote grants and campaigned for finances needed to make the improvements to the tennis facility at Noble Park. Because of her efforts, the City of Paducah, private donors and the USTA granted Gamble the funds needed for the renovations.
“We needed a place to hold clinics for adults and kids. You must have a bathroom to host a tournament and we lost a lot of bids for tournaments due to our lack of a bathroom facility at Noble Park. Though a lot of the tournaments were hosted at other courts, those courts didn’t pull people into the heart of the city like the courts at Noble Park,” says Jane Gamble.
The Noble Park tennis courts are open to this public and will be used for a variety of tennis programs and for people of all ages and backgrounds. Current programs at the tennis courts include Tennis Apprentice for Adults, Dropshots, an after-hours clinic for young professionals, summer day camps for kids this summer, and adults USTA men and women leagues.
Country Club of Paducah
The traditional setting for tennis is at a country club, and the Country Club of Paducah provides a top-notch facility for its members with upcoming renovations to the tennis courts.
“We recently completed the first phase of renovations to the indoor tennis center by replacing some of the panels needing maintenance and replacing outdated lights with a new LED lighting system, added heating for the winter months bringing the indoor facility up to the modern standard, which is fantastic,” says head tennis coach of the Country Club of Paducah, Chris Dallas.
In the near future, the Country Club of Paducah is planning to rebuild the outdoor courts in addition to other renovations throughout the facility.
“Adding heat was important because it not only players comfortable, but people such as parents and friends who are watching comfortably as well. That has been the first phase of renovating the indoor facility with many more renovations to come for the outdoor courts. It’s an exciting time for the club!”
The Paducah Country Club is planning to rebuild the outdoor courts which are needing an update due to cracks and ware on the courts.
“This will be one of the largest investments we are making in the facility since it has been built!”
The tennis facility at the Country Club of Paducah currently has indoor courts, three clay courts, the only facility in the area with these courts, and outdoor asphalt courts. Plans to create a quick-start court is underway. This court is scaled down in size to accommodate juniors who want to learn to play the game and seniors who don’t want to cover as much ground as a traditional sized court.
You can play on all the common courts available including an indoor court, outdoor court, and outdoor clay court all in this facility as a member of theCountry Club of Paducah and engage in the various programs available.
“We are always adding new adult and junior players. We have gone from a summer to a full year program with the kids in recent years. We offer cardio tennis in which we don’t keep score, it’s just a fun way to come out and hit tennis balls with the pros and have a great time! We are dedicated to ensuring we have something for everybody.”
When asked about the tennis community in Paducah, Chris Dallas says, “The tennis community in Paducah is extremely varied. We have a traditional tennis setting at the Country Club of Paducah available, but Paducah is truly a very diverse community for tennis from Lone Oak to Noble Park. You don’t have to be a particular economic or social status to play tennis in Paducah. We have players from all walks of life that join together to play this game. That’s always been a very positive aspect of tennis in Paducah for me.”
Chris Dallas, Head Tennis Coach at the Country Club of Paducah
Chris Dallas is a Paducah native and the head tennis coach at the Country Club of Paducah. He learned the game of tennis as a child and played throughout his schooling years at Tilghman and then as a student at Lipscomb University.
“I’ve been a privilege to be trained by some incredible coaches and great people who have made a mark on tennis in Paducah.”
When he graduated college, he planned to teach tennis until he found a job as a school teacher.
“And I am still waiting for that to happen!” laughs Coach Dallas. “I truly believe I have the best job in the world. I get to see people from all walks of life and people who have amazing lives and incredible jobs. I teach teachers to doctors but I get the privilege of seeing them when they’re off. So it’s my job to make their time valuable to them and enjoy the game of tennis.”
When asked about the tennis community in Paducah, Chris Dallas says, “The tennis community in Paducah is extremely varied. We have a traditional tennis setting at the Paducah Country Club available, but Paducah is truly a very diverse community for tennis from Lone Oak to Noble Park. You don’t have to be a particular economic or social status to play tennis in Paducah. We have players from all walks of life that join together to play this game. That’s always been a very positive aspect of tennis in Paducah for me.”
McCracken County High School Tennis Facility
“It’s been five years since we consolidated into McCracken County High School and its been a lot of fun working with kids from all the different schools that make up McCracken County today,” says head tennis coach of McCracken County High School, Larry Heflin.
Since McCracken County High School started, the girl’s tennis team has won three state championships and two runner-ups, and the boy’s team has won three state championships and one runner-up.
“Overall, we’re doing really well. We have a middle school program too that moves kids up the program and I send several players to play for college teams.”
The indoor tennis center is a boost to McCracken County High School’s tennis program and is open to the public during the winter by appointment.
“In the past, we have traveled to schools to play in tournaments at great indoor facilities so it gives us an advantage to have our own indoor facility here in Paducah for McCracken County High School. The new facility is a huge boost to the community and the public.”
For more information about the McCracken County High School tennis team visit http://www.gomccracken.com/ClubSpotlight.aspx?clubId=54433
Coach Heflin, Head Coach of McCracken County High School Tennis Program
Coach Larry Helfin has been teaching tennis for more than 40 years and is currently the head coach at McCracken County High School.
He is an accomplished and awarded player himself and a strong supporter and member of the tennis community in Paducah. He stumble upon the game of tennis when he took his first teaching job at the former Lone Oak High School and the school happened to be looking for a tennis coach at the same time. Coach Heflin taught himself the game of tennis and has, excelled at the sport, and has taught hundreds of local players over the past several decades.
“The most rewarding thing to me is that I still have a lot of players I coached that are still playing the game. Tennis is a sport for life and can be played by anyone of any age. They’ve learned that tennis is great for good health-mental and physical, and they can play the game for life.”
Coach Helfin believes Paducah is now thriving in tennis facilities accessible in the community.
“I am excited about the newly renovated Noble Park tennis courts. That’s where I started playing tennis. The community college also renovated their facility a few years ago and then my own facility in Lone Oak is a great place to host tournament and matches. I think we’re doing really well now in having diverse and accessible tennis facilities for anyone who wants to play.”
Larry J. Helfin Tennis Center
The Larry J. Helfin Tennis Center features 12 outdoor courts in Lone Oak and is run by the Lone Oak Tennis Association. Coach Larry Heflin has been a member of that association since 1972 and made it his mission to find a way to build tennis courts in the Lone Oak area.
“Our goal all along has been to develop a facility for junior development, kids in middle school and high school to learn the game, and a place that is open to the public.
The Lone Oak Tennis Association’s main project today is fundraising for new lighting on the courts.