08/04/14 Plymouth native, Michael Delp, has been on the tennis courts since he was six and now spends hours teaching the game he loves as the Summer Tennis Director for the City and Plymouth High School tennis coach.
He has served as the PHS Boys Tennis coach for 16 years.
But he gives most of the credit for the success of tennis programs in Plymouth to instructors who came before him. He said, “Mary Beth Hunter and Al Flory both put in lots of hours.”
The condition of the courts that were put in 40 years ago is causing him some concern. He said, “Two years ago they did fill in some cracks and painted. However, after the winter conditions cause expansion, the cracks come back.” He said there are areas where the cracks are hazards and pose risks for injury for players.
According to Delp, the courts were resurfaced six or seven years ago and have had resurfacing repairs five times in 40 years.
Even if further resurfacing of the courts was performed, contractors that have been have contacted refuse to guarantee their work due to the condition of the courts and the way they were built. Delp said, “We have learned a lot in 40 years about how to build courts.” He said NLC (Northern Lakes Conference) tournaments that they could have been held in Plymouth were declined due to the condition of the courts.
The Boy’s team representing PHS has been winning their sectional for the last 17 years and has won at least six state titles. Serious practice for the team members starts on August 1 and continues until mid-October of each year.
The PHS Girls Tennis team begins competition training right after spring break near the end of March each year and lasts until the end of May. According to Delp, the team that is made up of 25-30 each year has had good success for a number of years. Delp said, “We have a “no cut” policy so everyone who wants to play gets on the team. He said they practice six days a week.
Lincoln Junior High has 10-15 students who are involved at either beginning or intermediate level lessons.
He said there have been at least 20-30 PHS graduates who have been granted scholarships from colleges for playing tennis.
In addition to his high school teams, Delp can be found every Wednesday night during the summer at the courts when over 70 people of all ages gather for league play that forms the last week of May. Delp said, “We have players of all ages made up of community folks including a few high school kids.”
In addition to the 70 plus regular members, Delp said he generates a substitute list each year that includes anywhere from 50-70 tennis enthusiasts.
After the annual Blueberry Festival, a Fall League meets for five or six weeks and usually has 20-30 players.
The largest numbers of tennis court users are the kids from 4-10 -years-old who take lessons for six weeks/two days a week. Delp said they have over 75 registered this year and in some years have as many as 100 kids.
Summer lesson are also offered to high school students and adults.
According to Delp, there are usually 40 high school aged kids in lessons and from 10-20 adults.
Delp said there are a number of adults who are playing “pickle ball” on the courts. “Pickle ball” is a cross between tennis and ping-pong, according to Delp. It is played with paddles and a wiffle ball.
He said, “Lots of new people come out every year.” “We have a family kind of feeling.” he said. “This is a lifetime sport.” he said.
Carol Anders Correspondent