As an avid tennis fan and player, I was all for the Rome Tennis Center at Berry College. I actively campaigned for the SPLOST and was thrilled when it passed by 80 some odd votes.
What a great idea for economic development for Rome. The center does bring many tournaments to Rome, and that’s great. The problem seems to be with the management of the center. The RTC at Berry College is now managed by Lisa Smith of the tourism office. She has no experience managing a tennis center and no knowledge of tennis in general.
With better management and staffing decisions, the tennis center could not only be a vehicle for economic development, but also a self sufficient money maker.
The tennis community of Rome always knew the center wasn’t built for us, but we enjoyed playing our league matches there. In 2018 the center hired a teaching pro named Becky Opoien. She moved to Rome from Arizona knowing no one here. Since then she created many new programs and had a huge following of both juniors and adults. In my 20 years of playing tennis in Rome I have never seen a pro who brought together so many players of all levels and created fun and exciting new programs for local players. She was really great for Rome players and I’m sure brought in more revenue from locals than any other tennis pro the center has ever has.
On June 4, Becky was preparing for her Friday night LiveBall drills when she was called into a meeting and forced to resign or be fired. This was a terrible blow for Becky. The action is also a terrible blow for the Rome tennis community.
Local players are once again left with very limited options and feeling like we have absolutely no say in what happens at the center. I guess having the center filled with locals during the time between tournaments does not appeal to the current management.
As a lifetime Rome resident and taxpayer, I am very concerned about the current management of the Rome Tennis Center. As taxpayers we should demand transparency of the finances of the tennis center and require that our tax dollars are being used in the best way possible. Please join with me and many in the tennis community in demanding that our Commissioners and local officials investigate the operations of the Rome Tennis Center.