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Indoor tennis dream pursued

"South Whidbey is a great place to be an athlete. The weather is mild, open spaces abound, and life on the island is relaxed enough to allow time for evening games and workouts. Except during the rainy season, which seems to last from January to January some years.More rain-wary than most athletes are tennis players. But their rainy-day troubles could end in the near future, if the plans of a small group of tennis enthusiasts come to fruition.For the past few weeks, members of the loosely affiliated South Whidbey Association for Tennis (SWAT) have been talking indoor tennis. Jim Day, an active adult South Whidbey tennis player, says SWAT wants to find out what it will take to cover a court or two or four with an inflatable dome, a steel building, or a simple roof.Day said it is time for the local tennis community to start thinking about covering a few courts to extend the short season players experience on the Southend, since there are now more tennis players here than ever before.We've identified about 150 families that play tennis on South Whidbey, Day said. Just how and where SWAT will bring indoor tennis to South Whidbey is still up for discussion. In two preliminary meetings during the past few weeks, SWAT players have come up with four options: Start a private tennis club, partner up with South Whidbey schools, work with the South Whidbey Parks and Recreation District, or go in with a local fitness or recreation club.In any of these circumstances, Day said any covered courts will need considerable funding, as an indoor tennis facility could cost hundreds of thousands of dollars. Much of that money will probably have to come from private parties, who might make large investments or pay for the facility through membership dues.In any case, Day said SWAT wants the facility to be open to all tennis players, including local high school teams and parks and recreation program players. SWAT participants are also trying to find out if local players want to start a South Whidbey tennis association, whether under the SWAT banner or another name.To make these decisions, Day said SWAT needs more people to get involved. To find out about future SWAT meetings, call Day at 341-2001 or e-mail him at . Those interested may also call Denny Armstrong at 331-5001, or e-mail him at . If snail mail is preferred, write to Jim Day at Box 1230, Clinton, WA 98236."

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