GJ one of 10 finalists to be recognized as USTA’s best tennis town

By ALLEN GEMAEHLICH
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For years, Grand Junction has been a town that loves tennis. Now it’s official.

Grand Junction is one of 10 finalists for the United States Tennis Association’s Best Tennis Town award.

Grand Junction Parks and Recreation Superintendent Traci Wieland said she was notified about the award early Tuesday afternoon.

The award recognizes the community that best exemplifies the passion, excitement, community spirit and impact tennis brings to members of the community.

“Tennis is well received here,” she said. “There has been an insurgent number of players at the beginning level taking lessons.”

Wieland said the Grand Junction Parks & Recreation Department has close to 100 new participants in its youth and adult programs.

Lena Elliott, the Taco Bell Western Slope Open tournament director, has worked with the city over the years to help establish leagues and programs.

“We are so deserving,” Elliott said. “We are number one, there’s no doubt in my mind. Now, we’ve got to get the votes out. The city jumped on that. They had a video put together in three or four days.”

The city produced a five-minute video with local tennis players as part of the application process.

Another part of the nomination criteria included five letters from community members and politicians to show how the community collaborates with the public and private organizations to support tennis and has a recognized tennis committee.

“No matter what level you look at, we collaborate,” Wieland said. “We totally fit the bill for this.”

The public will get to vote for the award, which is its first year, beginning Thursday at http://www.besttennistown.com. Voting continues through July 26. The 10 cities will be announced today and profiled on the USTA Web site.

The top three will be announced July 27, with the Best Tennis Town revealed during the U.S. Open, which runs Aug. 31-Sept. 13.

The winner receives $100,000 for the community’s programs or facility enhancements, which must be approved by the USTA. The runner-up receives $50,000 and the other city in the top three receives $25,000. All three cities will be recognized at the U.S. Open.

The seven other finalists receive $2,000 worth of tennis equipment.


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