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The Davis Cup's legacy makes permanent homes in Boise parks

It was without a doubt the biggest tennis event in Boise's history. Yes, Team USA went down to defeat against Team Serbia in the April 2013 Davis Cup quarterfinals (BW, Citydesk, "Serbs Take Davis Cup Quarters," April 8, 2013), but a packed Taco Bell Arena thrilled to the world's No. 1-ranked player, Novak Djokovic, lead his Serbian countrymen through a weekend of tennis that sports fans still recall with enthusiasm.

"I think Boise has a lot to be proud of," said USA coach Jim Courier.

"The venue was amazing. The city is great," said the USA's Sam Querrey, who pushed Djokovic to four sets. "Boise is a great tennis town."

One year later, that Davis Cup weekend's legacy is making a permanent home in Boise's Ann Morrison, Terry Day and Helen Lowder parks. Thanks to a grant from the Davis Cup Legacy Project, the Boise Parks and Recreation Department has been spending this summer building four specially designed junior courts (for 10-year-olds and younger), along with two adult-sized courts in Ann Morrison and two new adult courts each at Lowder and Terry Day.

The United States Tennis Association pitched in $20,000 in funding as part of the Davis Cup Legacy Project, while the Idaho State Tennis Association provided in additional $5,000. The total cost for the project is estimated at $80,670. The remainder of the funding came from the city's Parks and Rec budget.

The 10 and younger youth courts, also referred to as Quick Start complex, are half the regulation size of the more common adult-sized courts traditionally found at parks across the nation. Regulation-sized courts measure 78 feet by 36 feet, while the Quick Start courts are 36 feet by 18 feet. And it turns out that Boise will be the only city in the entire Gem State to have permanent Quick Start courts. A few other cities have portable accoutrements to adjust existing adult courts down to the Quick Starts.

"We are proud to be the only city in the state of Idaho to have these size of courts," Parks and Recreation Director Doug Holloway told the Boise City Council in a July 16 workshop.

With permanent Quick Start facilities in place, Boise will soon be a leading candidate to host district, state and even regional youth tennis tournaments, according to Holloway.

"The real goal of the grant is to provide access to safe and appealing and functional

tennis environments," he said. "And these improvements should assist communities in promoting lifelong healthy activities for youth."

While many European nations have renowned public tennis programs to encourage kids to play tennis at an elite level, the United States has lagged behind, usually relegating the nation's best tennis programs to private clubs or expensive academies.

Even with the recent success of the Boise State University tennis program under head coach Greg Patton, one of the architects in bringing the Davis Cup to Boise, opportunities for the younger set have been limited in the Treasure Valley. Steve Bickham, former ISTA executive director, told Boise Weekly in 2013 that he believed the Davis Cup could help remedy that situation.

"You talk to any professional tennis player who is top five or top 10 in the world, and the reason they got hooked on [tennis] is because they went to see something as a kid," Bickham said. "Kids in Boise have never had this kind of opportunity."

Salt Lake City-based Renner Sports Surfaces won the city of Boise contract to install the new courts and it is expected to wrap up construction by Monday, Sept. 15. A Renner spokesman said crews were waiting about 30 days for the concrete to cure before adding surfacing material.

"Construction has gone really good," said Kelly Burrows, construction project manager. "We haven't had any challenges so far."

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