Anaheim, Santa Ana Dealing With Tennis Centers Differently

The Santa Ana City Council Monday night postponed approving a five-year agreement with the operator of the Cabrillo Tennis Center so a nonprofit could be brought in to give inner-city youth the opportunity to play the sport.

Santa Ana has contracted with Match Point Tennis Academy since 2007 to manage and operate the tennis center, according to a city staff report. Council members postponed the $48,000, five-year extension, with three five-year renewal options, until the July 1 council meeting.

“The hope is there will be a secondary agreement, even a secondary operator at the site,” that caters to inner city youth, said Councilman Vincent Sarmiento.

The Santa Ana decision comes amid revelations that the Anaheim City Council is considering approving more than $6.4 million in renovations at the Anaheim Tennis Center. The Anaheim proposal has sparked outrage among some Latinos and Mayor Tom Tait, who believe the money would be better spent on other parks.

At the Anaheim Tennis Center, there are no free lessons. The average membership cost is $80 monthly, and guests may play for $5 per session, according to tennis center operator Mike Nelson.

The tennis centers in Anaheim and Santa Ana have another factor in common: Both were supported by tennis-loving mayors.

Former Anaheim Mayor Curt Pringle is a “tennis buff” whose children played at the Anaheim Tennis Center while on their high school tennis teams, Nelson said.

Santa Ana Mayor Miguel Pulido, also a tennis aficionado, in 2011 pushed to spend $510,000 in federal grant funds to build two new clay courts at the Cabrillo Center. His council colleagues shot down the request, however, and decided to spend the money on a downtown Latino cultural plaza and a police helicopter program.

Spending for the Anaheim Tennis Center is part of the overall budget plan council members will consider at their meeting Tuesday.

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