Golden Triangle Tennis players pictured at the reopening of newly-resurfaced courts in Columbus Dec. 2 are, from left, Addison Phillips, Kaitlyn McConnell, Kennedy Byrd, Ku'Miya Jones, Gavin Weatherspoon, Alaya Jones, Emma Horton, Bailey Washington, Lexy Magee, Nyema Johnson, Aaliyah Young, Kendall Moody, Tyson Phinisey and Jenna Flake Photo by: Courtesy photo
December 8, 2018 10:12:05 PM
Six newly-resurfaced tennis courts in east Columbus are giving the Golden Triangle Tennis program reason to celebrate. A dedication of the reopened courts located at Columbus High School took place Dec. 2, with a sincere "thank you" to supporters who made the upgrade possible.
Golden Triangle Tennis (GTT), a nonprofit organization, provides tennis and education through National Junior Tennis and Learning network (NJTL) and United States Tennis Association (USTA) programs. Vanita Mattix of Columbus founded the local program in 2011 and is its executive director and Professional Tennis Registry-certified coach. She also wrote the grant that helped spur much-needed court renovations.
Inspired by three-time Grand Slam title winner Arthur Ashe who said, "Start where you are, use what you have, do what you can," GTT's vision is "ACCESS" --All Children Can Excel Starting Sooner. It joins with the NJTL and USTA in seeking to develop the character of young people through tennis and education, especially youth who may not otherwise have an opportunity to play tennis.
"We are looking to partner with facilities and programs all over the Golden Triangle in 2019 to carry out our vision and mission," the director said.
Golden Triangle Tennis has partnered with the Columbus Municipal School District for the use of the tennis courts when available, but the courts had become in need of significant repair, Mattix said. The grant from USTA Mississippi provided $7,000 toward the work, but $24,700 was required for the total project. The remaining funding was provided by Jabari and Jewel Edwards of Columbus. The Edwards' niece, Bailey Washington, plays with GTT. And with the help of additional donors, new nets, court numbers, squeegees and a hitting wall were possible as well.
Jabari Edwards sees it as investing in children's futures.
"One of those things my dad, Joe Edwards, used to say when he got on the Columbus City Council was you can either invest a small percentage in kids when they're young, or you can spend a lot on correctional facilities when they become adults," he said. A sponsor banner made for the Edwards family that hangs at the court bears a photograph of Joe Edwards. "We doing it to honor my father," his son remarked.
Hi-Tech Athletic Surfaces in Clay County did the resurfacing work.
"This means we have a place to call home; it's been a struggle over eight years keeping a place to play, but thanks to the support of community partners, we have that now," said Mattix who this weekend has taken nine GTT players to the Mississippi Fall State Championship in Jackson to compete in the 14-and-under girls division.
Sponsors recognized courtside Dec. 2 included the Edwards; the family of Amelia McCleod, who made a gift in her memory; Tony Phinisey of Tony's Agility and Quickness Training; the Javan Nance family of Hi-Tech Athletic Surfaces; Jevonka Smith; Classie Butler; Germain and Dana Heggs McConnell and Orlando Abrams, as well as Mattix.
Participation in GTT is open to everyone. All programs are offered at low or no cost.
"We are looking for players," said Mattix. "We want as many kids as possible."
For more information, contact Mattix by email at [email protected], or call 662-549-2919.
Jan Swoope is the Lifestyles Editor for The Commercial Dispatch.