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Recreation Board Targets Tennis Pros

Proposed regulations for the use of tennis courts in Barrington revolve around teaching pros hogging the courts while local players kept watching.

The days of unregistered tennis professionals teaching for hours on Barrington’s courts while local players wait to play outside the fences – or don’t get to play at all -- appear to be about over.

The Parks and Recreation Commission spent most of its Thursday night meeting – as it has at recent meetings -- rehashing proposed tennis court regulations that have been on the agenda for months.

They got some new insight Thursday from Barrington teaching pro Tony Cunha, who teaches tennis for the Recreation Department in the summer.

Cunha said professionals from outside of Barrington – even a tennis league – have been using the courts without registering or paying the appropriate fees.

“The pros are coming,” Cunha said, “because the town has very good courts. But they’re not registering and they’re not paying fees.”

He said the town is losing this revenue, and residents are getting frustrated at times because they can’t use the courts.

“I have not been able to get on the courts with my children because of out-of-town usage,” Cunha said.

There is one pro, he said, who has monopolized a court for up to seven hours. He said he spotted a league from Cranston using the courts.

Current regulations require pros to register with the Recreation Department and pay a small fee. But no one ever follows the rules and there is no enforcement.

“Have you ever called the police?” asked Mike Seward, the board chairman, of Joan Warren, the administrative assistant in the Recreation Department who is filling in while a search for a new recreation director goes on.

The department has never contacted the police, she said.

Seward said the proposed regulations would have to involve some enforcement. Each court should also first get a sign that explains any new regulations, he said. There are no signs right now at the Kent Street and Chianese field courts, said Cunha.

To start, Cunha suggested that Barrington set limits on court usage for the pros. Not at all the courts should be scheduled for the pros to use.

Cunha also suggested that Barrington raise the fees it would charge pros to as much as $10 per hour for Barrington instructors and, perhaps, $20 per hour for non-resident instructors.

A motion was made and seconded to set those fees. The proposed regulations were tabled again for the next meeting, however, so the motion was withdrawn.

The only thing that seems certain right now is that the days of unregistered teaching pros using Barrington’s courts is coming to an end.

Maria September 28, 2012 at 12:53 PM
What is this new mother and child tennis lessons for a fee at the middle school? Is that sanctioned by the town?
Bill1 September 28, 2012 at 09:36 PM
I'm in favor of coming down on pros and monitoring their use of town courts, but I think it's also important to point out that some of these pros have long-standing relationships with Barrington residents and are providing a service to them. I also find it hard to believe that one pro camped out on a court for seven hours (What did this guy do, check on them every hour?). I do see pros sometimes but it seems like they're only there for an hour or two. Out of towners seems like the bigger problem, but who knows who's an out of towner and who isn't? By all means, come down on the pros using town courts, but to this court-user it doesn't seem like such a problem.
Kelly September 28, 2012 at 11:49 PM
Seems fair to me that if you are a resident of Barrington and you wish to take tennis lessons you should be allowed to use the courts that your tax dollars paid for. Small children don't really belong on these courts anyway. Too many parents camp out on the courts with small children, snacks and strollers as a way to fill time. These are beautiful courts meant for actual tennis playing, not daycare. And I have never noticed anyone on the courts for hours and hours at a time. I see the newcomers club and some other organizations are running tennis clinics as well, are these approved by the town? Just wondering what tennis pro teed someone off...

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