Letter to the editor in reference to the changes at the Tennis Center

Published 5:13 pm Friday, June 24, 2016

My name is Gracie Surratt. I just turned 14 years old, and I’ve actively been playing tennis for 8 years. I am writing this letter following a recent chain of events that have happened here in Bainbridge. I, along with my three other siblings, have been taking lessons and clinics through the Bill Reynolds Tennis Center under the direction of Coach Tim Thompson. In late January, after a short break during BHS marching band season, I made a decision to switch coaches from Mr. Tim Thompson to Mr. Alfred Koripamo. I had decided I wanted to devote more time and potentially improve my tennis game to the next level. This year in middle school, I played number one singles and was undefeated. I give a lot of the credit for what I accomplished to Coach Alfred for believing in me and showing me that I was capable of so much more. Unfortunately last week, Coach Alfred was let go from his job at the tennis center. I was very sad and also disappointed when there was really no reason given. After my mom was told Mr. Alfred could no longer continue to give me lessons on any tennis courts here in Bainbridge, we began to look into why. My parents are now driving me to Cairo to continue having lessons with Coach Alfred each week, because it is my goal to try out and hopefully play high school tennis. I have improved so much in just a few short months and have regained my love for tennis. We recently found out that tennis is the only sport in Bainbridge that operates under a city policy dating back to 2001 where the tennis director has full control over all of the city courts. There are always empty courts available for use throughout the city, and it is so painful knowing that I won’t be able to use them. I wonder why this is the case. I have gone to two meetings with my parents this week in the city and have been disappointed to hear that many of the adults are not interested in making our youth tennis players better. They didn’t seem to care that Coach Alfred has over 40 students. Their main focus seemed to be on themselves and how the tennis director should remain in control. I am sorry to say that if the adults do not focus any attention on the youth in our community, this program will surely die out for lack of participation. Please, for the sake of us kids, review these old policies and make some change that would be better for all of us in our community. My hope is for one of the changes to be that Coach Alfred be able to continue coaching me on a city court here in Bainbridge.


Gracie Surratt

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