Home Humor & Satire We Need to Address Anchorage's Dire Tennis Problem

We Need to Address Anchorage's Dire Tennis Problem


It is a cold, crisp Saturday morning in Anchorage. Snow has not yet stuck in Alaska’s largest city but it won’t be long. Walking downtown with a steaming cup of coffee, I am surprised by the sheer number of tennis rackets I can see just on 4th Ave. alone. Many of you are not awake, much less roaming 4th Ave at this hour, so this issue might be something that flies under your radar.
Anchorage has a tennis problem.
Many estimates place the number of tennis players in Anchorage at as high as 500, which is 0.2% of the population: an appalling number. Most of them are not veterans, and some researchers believe most of Anchorage tennis players are white.
This morning, it is clear something needs to be done.
We had an early snowfall, putting many tennis players at risk with their short shorts and unseasonable tops. We have been fortunate enough to have moderate-but-damp October weather. As soon as the real cold gets here I worry about what will happen to these unfortunate tennis players. This morning I can count no less than 20 tennis players looking for a place to play. On a previous walk, I noticed a tennis player huddled under the cover of the drive-through of Credit Union One, seeking shelter from the wet weather.
On the corner of Seward and Northern Lights, a rather preppy young white man with curly brown hair stands with a sign stating “tennis racquet needs restrung, anything helps, god bless.” This scene is replayed throughout the city on various street corners. But no area of town is feeling the effects worse than the industrial area near the Brother Francis Shelter.
Police arrested 18 tennis players at a makeshift tennis court near the Brother Francis Shelter on Friday. They arrived after notifying people Thursday night that they were playing tennis on private property. “No Trespassing” signs are abundant, but as one local landowner puts it “feral cats have better manner than tennis players, at least they bury their poop.”
No incident brings this problem to light like the recent incident where a tennis player was found suffering from what can only be described as “a slight chill.”
This population cannot continue to be ignored, and Anchorage Mayor Dan Sullivan seems to be the only one paying attention.
Sullivan secured $10.5 million from the state in a grant to build an indoor tennis court. Anchorage already has tennis courts owned by the Alaska Club but the cost is a deterrent for this under-served population. The average professional tennis player makes $305,000 a year for men, and $250,000 for women but this number is misleading, most tennis players in Anchorage only make $100,000 a year which leaves the Alaska Club membership premium, about $150 monthly, out of reach.
Sullivan’s plan to build the tennis complex has come under fire. Dozens of tennis player came in out of the cold to testify to the need for the courts, racquets in hand.
In other news, a plan to house homeless has been scrapped due to sticker shock.


  1. Though I do understand that the anchorage community has very few tennis players, I feel that is not a disincentive to build a city court system. I believe that it is in fact the strongest argument for one. I appreciate the sarcasm about anchorage tennis players and the fact that “those one percent’ers want another 10 million to build more courts because they can’t afford the 150 a month to go to the Alaska Club.” If you add up the costs for someone to play tennis all year round you are paying 1800 in Alaska Club fees, which is unreasonable for people who don’t make 100,000 a year. And if you follow that logic, maybe the fact that Anchorage has so few tennis players is because it is prohibitively expensive for Anchorage-ites to play. Imagine if to have you kid play football or baseball you had to pay 1800 a year for them, plus team costs, plus equipment costs. And if you also look at the quality of a sport that is played worldwide, is beneficial to you health (unlike football/hockey), and is known as being a sport you can play your whole life. Sulivan for once is trying to actually equalize the the tennis court for all players, not just the rich white ones, because the private industry hasn’t.

    • I appreciate that and agree — there will be a solution I’m sure. The Alaska Club has offered one of their facilities for half the price of the ten million facility. Hopefully we can do something for our homeless population as well.

  2. In response to Mr. Lottsfeldt’s comment as a parent not only can I imagine it but I did pay $1800 or more on a much more modest income than $100,000 a year. My kids were swimmers, divers, skiers, runners, basketball, soccer players, musicians and yes occasionally tennis players. Admittedly we were lucky the facilities for these functions were already well established. Among the families involved with my kids’ teams an annual sport budget of $1800 was not uncommon for club dues, lessons, equipment, travel etc. We are talking late 90’s and early 2000’s dollars here without any adjustment for inflation I expect it would be much higher today. We used a combination of private and public facilities and figured out how to pay for it as a family. I would have felt uncomfortable with such an extravagant investment of public funds to duplicate facilities already available in the community.
    It’s Alaska it’s cold outside I think we can expect that some activities will not be available out of season. We don’t play soccer in the winter or ski in the summer. There are existing public courts for tennis as there are existing fields for soccer and baseball, trails for running and skiing, not to mention the vast and amazing Alaskan outdoors. Each is used in its’ appropriate season. I find this reasonable and logical. I never expected the community to build an indoor soccer or baseball field for my family. Winter is not a true hardship if you have a warm place to live. I just don’t understand the urgency.

  3. Great job Warren! I find the whole tennis discussion fascinating as I and hundreds of others couldn’t help but participate in it given the Anchorage assembly scheduled the labor referendum on the Tuesday agenda after Tennis Court Gate testimony.
    To me it’s a simple bottom line issue. Money is available, however stinkily it got there, and the Alaska Club has a facility that could be bought and refurbished for much less. The balance could be used for maintenance of real Project 80’s facilities in need, or maybe to help address homelessness 😉
    However, I suspect the mayor may not want the facility to be located in East Anchorage, as West Anchorage would be so much more “convenient.” But if as most of the testimony stated the desire to meet a need for the under served is the driving factor, the East Anchorage facility’s nearer proximity to more of the under served community and at a significant discount, can someone explain why that isn’t the best option? Otherwise, it seems like game, set, match!