Advantage McKinney: The city’s new state-of-the-art tennis courts and clubhouse recently opened to the public at Gabe Nesbitt Community Park.

As McKinney tennis lovers will tell you, the city recently advanced its tennis game in a big way.

On Feb. 25, a gala celebration opened the new Courts at Gabe Nesbitt Community Park, where there are 11 lighted and professionally constructed courts, including a signature stadium court. And, there is room to expand. In fact, the McKinney Parks, Recreation and Open Space Department intends to eventually double the number of courts.

The hard-surface courts are state-of-the-art, down to 45-degree corners that help avoid dead balls. They also feature an attractive, easily accessible layout, and several courts allow for ball machines to be used during practice.

“Even the positioning of each court was considered in order to minimize sun and wind effects,” explains McKinney Parks, Recreation and Open Space Department Director Lemuel Randolph. “We built (them) to minimize the direct-glare effect on players.”

Country Club Experience

The facility’s layout, comfort, functionality and attractiveness were carefully considered and take into account lessons learned at successful complexes elsewhere.

There is a large open space near the tennis center where players can relax or prepare for matches. This space doubles as a choice spot for meetings, corporate events and fundraisers. Another perk is the shaded outdoor ice machine available for players needing to cool off after a match in the blazing Texas sun.

Theresa Lane, a 15-year McKinney resident, is among the area tennis buffs happy with the new tennis facility. “We’ve never had much in the way of public courts here, and now we have this incredible new place,” she says. “I’m extremely excited to play here.”

A spacious 3,500-square-foot clubhouse features a pro shop, vending, showers and changing rooms, as well as administration and sales areas. A multipurpose meeting room is available for parties and other rentals, and there are offices and smaller meeting areas for the facility’s staffers, students and those who come to play.

Just outside the clubhouse is a large, wrap-around covered deck with comfortable furniture, fans, a large TV and panoramic views of the surroundings.

“Our goal is to deliver a country club experience at a municipal price, and we feel like we’ve done it,” Randolph says.

The facility was approved by McKinney voters in a 2006 bond election. It cost $3.75 million to design and construct.

Following the successful model found at municipal golf courses and other facilities, the City of McKinney has contracted with a third party, Lifetime Tennis, to oversee and administer the courts’ operations.

A Pro’s Pro

Matt Hanlin is general manager of the facility and a lifelong tennis player. He spent seven years as a junior player at the prestigious Bollettieri Tennis Academy and was a regular practice partner to Venus and Serena Williams, Monica Seles, Michael Chang and other professionals. He also was a Top 500 Association of Tennis Professionals singles player.

Hanlin says he is excited to live in McKinney and bring a fuller tennis experience to the community. As a U.S. Professional Tennis Association-credentialed professional, he has coached, supervised and managed programs in some of the country’s finest private and public venues – and now will do so here.

Chris Foltz, the facility’s full-time tennis pro and tennis director, has taught tennis for 15 years in the Dallas area at municipal centers and private clubs. As a player, he trained with Peter Burwash International in Japan and at the Brookhaven Academy in Dallas before playing college tennis and then becoming a Top 10 player in the Men’s Open Texas section.

Interested in Lessons?

Area tennis lovers interested in lessons and leagues for youths or adults will find them at the Courts at Gabe Nesbitt Community Park. Annual or daily-use passes can be purchased for family, adults, seniors or youth.

McKinney residents receive preferred prices, and reservations may be made on-site, by phone or online. Along with teams and leagues, the center is happy to help match players, as available, for practice and match play.

Lane, who belongs to a women’s tennis league, cannot wait for her turn to host home matches at the new tennis facility.

“These courts, and the amenities around them, are gorgeous,” she says.

About the author: Christopher Foster is a writer living in McKinney and is currently at work on a novel about cross-cultural misunderstanding. Although tennis is truly a global sport, it doesn’t appear in the novel. He was happy to write about it here!