Jeanette Marcus wants tennis to flourish in east Pasco County.
Marcus, a certified USPTA (United States Professional Tennis Association) instructor, operates the Dade-City based Tennis 4 U/Tennis Para Ti Inc.
The 56-year-old Marcus, a bilingual instructor, offers developmental and intermediate lessons for both youth and adults at her two-acre tennis facility, 35949 Bozeman Road in Dade City.
For novices, she teaches the “basics,” including proper racket grip, groundstrokes, serves, singles and doubles strategy, and court etiquette.
For more avid players, she remedies shoddy technique.
Her youngest client is four years old. Her oldest? 89.
“The biggest thing with tennis,” she said, “is you have to have fun.”
Marcus, also a former assistant pro at Lake Jovita, says east Pasco is lacking in public tennis programs and opportunities — especially for underprivileged youth.
“It’s like there’s nothing here,” said Marcus, who moved to Dade City from Lutz about eight years ago. “Pasco is very limited.”
One problem, Marcus said, is the lack of public tennis courts throughout east Pasco.
“When you get into central Pasco and east Pasco, the parks (department) doesn’t recognize putting the money in courts,” she said. “Dade City has two courts, Wesley Chapel has four courts and Zephyrhills has five courts.”
The absence of USTA (United States Tennis Association)-sanctioned programming and leagues, too, is another issue.
“You’ve got to be a member at all these (country) clubs to be able to play on a league,” Marcus said. “A lot of the kids that I teach can’t join a country club.
If you cannot afford to pay a membership at a country club, you don’t have an opportunity to play.”
Despite living in Dade City, Marcus — along with fellow tennis buddies — often travels to Hillsborough County to find open courts.
“Lutz has well-maintained courts, they have lights, and there’s always somebody on them,” said Marcus, who also drives to Hillsborough Community College and Davis Islands for matches.
She added: “I’ve been working for years trying to get a new tennis center to east Pasco.”
Her wish may soon be a reality.
In Zephyrhills, plans are underway to construct a 10-court tennis facility on 4.7 acres of land at the District at Abbott’s Square.
The estimated $1.9 million project will likely be funded over the next two fiscal years, according to Todd Vande Berg, planning director for the city of Zephyrhills.
Half the courts will have Har-Tru, a brand of clay surfaces, Vande Berg said.
“A lot of facilities are going more towards the soft courts versus the hard courts,” the planning director said. “It’s so much easier on the body — the joints.”
The facility, Vande Berg added, will open the door for additional tennis opportunities and events, including USTA-sanctioned tournaments.
“The goal is to develop comprehensive tennis programs, and have memberships and league play,” he said.
The forthcoming project has Marcus excited.
“When Zephyrhills builds this, it’s going to be nice,” she said. “You’ve got to have a court where your kids can practice on.”
One request of hers is roofing.
“The rain is a very frustrating thing,” Marcus said. “I don’t consider tennis to be an outdoor sport anymore. Our big, big events — the U.S. Open in New York, the French Open, Wimbledon — they’ve all had to make indoor courts.”
Vande Berg said partially covered courts are a possibility if partnerships are forged between local steel and aluminum companies.
“It would really be a windfall, especially in Florida with the rain that we get,” he said. “There would be demand. …There’s a cost, but there’s a real opportunity there.”
Funding options for the tennis facility include recreation impact fees, Penny for Pasco, various USTA grants, and partnerships with Pasco County Parks and Recreation and Pasco County Tourism.
Published November 2, 2016