Players take exception to tennis court fees

Some tennis players are outraged they have to pay to play on public courts at Memphis City Parks.
At issue is a recent hike in fees to reserve a public tennis court in the city of Memphis. Those running the courts say they're just trying to pay the bills.  But some say it's making the public courts private.

Players pay a fee to use Memphis' public tennis courts - $14 for an outdoor court, $26-$29 for one indoors.

It costs even more to reserve a court - $60 dollars a year for children, $150 dollars a year for adults.

Tennis player Cynthia Pelak worries that the rising fees restrict access to the public courts. Pelak says, "Instituting a policy that, even however small of an impact, is still an impact and sends a message that tennis is for the haves and not the have-nots."

But Memphis Tennis Director Stephen Lang says the fees do just the opposite - they fund the courts so that everyone can use them. According to Lang, "I think there's a misconception because the rates are higher but the rates are higher because we want to have the best courts and the best programs for the citizens of Memphis."

The city only picks up about a fourth of the budget to run seven public tennis facilities. The rest comes from user fees, grants and donations.

Both sides say they want more people playing tennis, but for now, the city's tight budget finds them on the opposite sides of the court.