The BTA was formed in 1992 and received the Community Tennis Association of the Year Award from the Georgia Tennis Association in 1995. Bainbridge is a small farming community in the southwest corner of the state.
In 1985 Bainbridge Leisure Services held the first Bainbridge/Engelhard Sanctioned Tournament. The Tournament Directors’ Workshop was a must, so the City of Bainbridge began sending a representative to the annual meeting. It was here that we learned of the other programs that the GTA sponsored. Each year a new program was started in Bainbridge in order to increase Bainbridge participation.
As the City of Bainbridge programs began to grow, the school systems allotted court time began to narrow. With both middle schools having teams, the varsity boys and girls having teams as well as a high school B-team, it was recognized that the school system needed a set of courts. The superintendent agreed to a location, which happened to be adjacent to property owned by the City of Bainbridge. This was the beginning of the combined effort between the City of Bainbridge, Decatur County, and the Decatur County School Board to build and eight-court complex.
A local engineer and contractor drew up court site plans and estimated cost. We gave our state representative a site plan, cost estimates, and local tennis background as well as tennis needs. Our state representatives were able to secure state funding in the form of a local assistance grant for $25,000. In 1994 and 1995 the Department of Natural Resources appropriated grant funds to provide financial assistance to local governments for the enhancement of public recreation. This grant was made known to all recreation departments. Our school system wrote and agreed to match the $15,000 Human Resources Grant. The City had to apply for the grant.
At this point the City also agreed to clearing, grading, and hauling. In the meantime, a survey was conducted of persons participating in the City tennis programs to determine the percentage of non-city residences participating. The chairman of the county commission was approached and he recognized the number of tennis players who were county residents only. Shortly thereafter, the county budgeted $25,000 for the tennis court complex. Everything fell into place:
- $25,000 from the state.
- $15,000 matching Human Resources Grant.
- $15,000 matched from the School Board.
- $25,000 budgeted from the County.
- Clearing, grading, and hauling from the City.
- Local contractor providing expert advice and additional funds. A local businessman and contractor took charge. All major bodies worked together for a common goal.
Our representatives worked with us to secure another $10,000 from the state for the much needed lights. At the opening ceremonies of the tennis courts, which were named the Carole Simpson Floyd Complex, the turnout by our Junior Tennis Team players, headed by Ruthe Spivey, particularly helped to stimulate the chairman of the county commission to suggest the county would be willing to match funds with the City and School in order to finish the lighting project. In 1996, a pavilion was added between courts through private donation monies and the City labor force.
The City Leisure Services began looking into grant money available through the Georgia Tennis Association for beginning tennis programs. Through the NJTL grant, our city introduced tennis to 35 to 40 minority children. Local minority volunteer talking to the kids about education and self-worth followed the court time. A local company began assisting with additional funds so that presently we are able to supply the kid’s racquets, t-shirts, water bottles, lip balm, drinks, instruction, and an ice cream/pool party at the end.
The STA sent a school representative, Kelly Coleman, to conduct a wonderful workshop for all the PE personnel at the elementary schools, the middle schools, and the high school. They now have lesson plans and the on-hand knowledge of how to teach tennis skills. The STA provided 60 rackets to the program. Also during this time a young tennis professional came to visit and look over our present situation. He has since moved to Bainbridge and is working toward improving our skill level as well as providing enthusiasm to the community tennis programs. We are pleased to have Travis Debardelaben as a part of our active tennis program.
In a city of approximately 10,000 and a county of less than 30,000, we presently have 16 USTA adult league teams. Through grant money, in 1995 we began offering the Play Tennis America Program, which introduced people to the sport of tennis. This is an ongoing program, which has moved players into league tennis. Through the City of Bainbridge and Bainbridge Tennis Association’s support, all of the following are programs offered on a continual basis.
USTA Adult Leagues NJTL program (locally known as the BEST Program) USTA Mixed Doubles League USTA Community Tennis Association (BTA) USTA Junior Team Tennis North Florida/ South Georgia Ladies League
USA 123 for Adults Professional lessons and clinics BMW Combo Junior Team Tennis Summer Sizzler USA 123 for kids Polar Bear Tournament for Adults Bainbridge/Charter House Junior Tournament Money Tree Junior Championships This sport of a lifetime has certainly caught on in Bainbridge, Georgia.
The lion’s share of the success can be directly linked to the organization of programs as well as the education of volunteers that GTA and STA have extended to this isolated area of the state. With the help of their programming, more courts were needed. Now people in Bainbridge are enjoying being together, exercising, and having fun through tennis.
1998 and 1999
Bainbridge hosted the District MXD Tournament. This was the first team event that has been held south of Macon. The city and the BTA were involved in a full year of planning. Through the combined efforts of the entire city, the MXD players left here knowing they were special. The Southern Tennis Association recognized our efforts and we were awarded the Southern Team Event of 1998. Also in 1999 the Georgia District Board of Directors traveled to Bainbridge for their spring meeting. They enjoyed a riverboat cruise down the Flint River compliments of Max Langston, local Pepsi Dealer, to Jack Wingate’s Fishing Restaurant/Lodge.
At the 2000 Southern meeting, Bainbridge was awarded the Regional MXD Tournament to be held in November. Because of the tourism that tennis has brought to our city, the City Council has approved the building of another 12 to 16-court complex. We are presently looking at other facilities and court management possibilities. We appreciate the support of the GTA and STA and look forward to our continued marriage.
January brought cold weather & tennis enthusiasts to Bainbridge for the 5th annual Polar Bear Tournament. Over 120 players turned out for this adult tournament held over MLK weekend.
An umpire’s clinic was held in February and the adult league season got underway. March and April always are our busiest tennis months with the Charter House Junior Tournament, Rotary Team Tournament, BHS tennis matches and the men’s and ladies adult league matches all vying for courts.
April also was the beginning month of our tennis director & tennis Pied Piper of juniors, Travis DeBardelaben. A native of Montgomery, Alabama, Travis brings lots of enthusiasm and knowledge of the game to Bainbridge and the surrounding area. He and his wife/teacher Laura are a great addition to our community.
May and June were devoted to BMW Combo and kicking off the summer MXD League season. Because of our new Tennis Director, juniors became an important aspect of city programs once again. Lots of beginner children’s clinics, summer swim and tennis camps, multicultural clinics, USA 123 and adult social nights began to fill the tennis calendar.
During August, the city of Bainbridge & BTA were hosts to the state BMW Combo doubles tournament. Thea Burke, BTA Combo Coordinator, and Amanda Coker, director of Main Street Tourism, were instrumental in the development of our local festivities. Directly following this event, many of our MXD teams went to Macon for the state MXD tournament.
September began with Travis coordinating our Money Tree Junior Tournament and beginning to show the development of many of his juniors. Meeting other professionals in the area has developed and set the stage for continued growth of all our juniors and the networking that has taken place is beginning to take hold.
This year continued to be very exciting for tennis in Bainbridge. It opened up with approximately 100 adults playing singles and doubles in the annual Polar Bear Tournament, as well as the Bainbridge High School Valentine mixed doubles tournament.
2003 was a fast and furious year. Many new things happened and again, these accomplishments could not be possible without the cooperation of the City of Bainbridge and the BTA and tennis professional Travis DeBardelaben.
Nowadays, it is next to impossible to find an available court, especially in the afternoon when the junior programs are going on. We increased our Junior Team Tennis participation numbers this year. We took 4 Junior teams to the State competition and had to place extra kids on teams from surrounding areas. We had one team advance to the Georgia/Florida competition. Tennis has become a year round sport for many of these juniors, with many of them starting to give up other sports to focus on tennis.
In January, we hosted the 6th annual Polar Bear adult tournament, and had Steve Prangley, Executive Director of the GTA, and his wife come for a visit and participate in the tournament. Everyone had a good time during the weekend, especially at the player’s party where many prizes were awarded and there was free food for everyone.
Adult League participation increased by 17% this year. Much of this increase is due to the fact that USA 123 programs are running year round, and, therefore; we have added new 2.5 and 3.0 teams. Senior League participation increased by over 300%; with this increase being due to a grant received to host senior clinics. Through these clinics, we have been able to add teams and one team advanced to the State tournament played in Albany this year.
The summer was kicked off with a carnival in May. Lots of tennis was played that night, along with prizes and food, and older junior players provided a babysitting service.
The summer was full of clinics and camps for the junior players. The ever-popular Swim and Tennis camp was full for both sessions. Many of the kids enjoyed it so much, that they now participate in year round clinics.
The year culminated with a first ever awards banquet. The evening was very special, and the BTA had no idea what to expect. We planned on feeding dinner to approximately 80 people. The entrance fee to the banquet was a toy for the city Christmas toy drive. Over 120 people attended and there was a mad scramble to find enough seats for every one. Various awards were given out that evening to captains, junior players, and volunteers. During the evening, Christmas music was provided by junior players who are also in their school bands. It was an evening to remember and will become an annual event.
Again, 2003 was a very positive year for the growth of tennis in Bainbridge. We look forward to the New Year and all the possibilities it will present us.
These years have flown by. Travis continues to grow league players and particularly has focused on juniors. He has a great base of players and works out of the Potter Street facility both with his lessons and with junior clinics.
The city began to discuss the possibility of a 14 court facility to be located at the Bill Reynolds Sports Park. Travis worked with a local engineer and helped him design not only the layout of the courts but also the building and storage area.
In the fall of 2006, the Bill Reynolds Tennis Complex was opened just in time for the State Combo Tournament. The 14 court facility is awesome and is an example of what a city and tennis association can do once they combine their talents.
Players from all over the state came to play and compete in Bainbridge. The Combo Tournament was capped off with a wonderful player party down at the Chamber of Commerce. Our weather has been most cooperative and the help from the city to pull off this size tournament is beyond comparison from any other city recreation department in the state.
These past few years have been challenging for Travis but also rewarding. He has had to teach from more than ideal facilities but was rewarded with a wonderful state of the art tennis facility that he was hands on in designing. Much credit and accolades needs to go to the city for seeing tennis as an avenue to increase tourism and therefore making an economic impact on the city.
Travis Debardelaben has been the city tennis director for 7 years now. Recently he took a job in Auburn, Alabama with the city and university combined court facility. The city was fortunate to hire Derek Ameel to replace him. Derek comes from the Atlanta area and both he and his wife are teaching professionals.
Derek jumped into a busy spring tennis season and has been the leading force behind upgrading the BTA and City Tennis website. He brings with him years of teaching experience especially focusing on high performance tournament players. Julia, who played at Georgia Southwestern, was born and raised in Brazil and loves working with children of all ages.
As we move forward with our tennis players, Derek and Julia will lead us to developing both league and social play at the Bill Reynolds Sports Complex.
Since May was tennis month, the BTA hosted a carnival with over 200 people attending. We fed pizza to the players and kids and adults had a good time with all the games that were being played. Just about everyone walked away with a prize.
Our leagues played throughout the year with many of the Bainbridge teams going to the state level of play, and we had 2 men’s teams compete in the Regional Combo Tournament with one of the teams winning the whole event. We had over 550 participants in league play.
Our city tennis professional, Travis DeBardalaben, stayed very busy throughout the year. He conducted many 123 clinics for juniors and adults, as well as free verification clinics, multicultural clinics, swim and tennis summer camp, and evening fun nights. Travis has really made a difference in the Junior program, as can be seen by the fact that over 50 juniors played team tennis, and over 130 juniors competed in the two local championship tournaments that were played in Bainbridge.
In October, Bainbridge had perfect weather when about 13 teams came to compete in the Super Senior State Tournament. We held a fish fry and really showed Southern hospitality to 100 players.
Our city and BTA continue to work together to bring about positive tennis growth. Our mayor, city council, city manager, leisure services director and tennis director recognize the importance that volunteers play in the development of a successful tennis program. Because we do not compete but accent each other’s strong points, we will continue to reach heights and therefore set new goals each year.
In April, Bainbridge hosted the Georgia State Senior Hard court championships. Approximately, 60 players from all over the state came to Bainbridge for a weekend of good tennis and good weather. A fish fry was held for the players to get to know each other better.
BAINBRIDGE TENNIS ASSOCIATION
To promote and develop the growth of tennis in southwest Georgia.
To provide a full range of tennis activities that enhance people’s lives in the southwest area of Georgia
- Excellence-Committed to promotion and development of tennis as an enjoyable, lifetime sport that contributes to good health, character and responsible citizenship.
- Diversity-Committed to all people playing, watching and supporting tennis in southwest Georgia communities
- Teamwork-BTA achieve its mission through the efforts of volunteers, staff, and community partners working as a team.
- Accountability/Evaluation-Promoting the financial well being of the BTA and the evaluation of progress toward achievement of stated goals and objectives.
The Bainbridge Tennis Association (BTA) functions as a support and promotional arm for the programs offered by the City of Bainbridge’s Tennis Director. As a full service Community Tennis Association(CTA), the BTA’s mission is to promote and develop the growth of tennis in Bainbridge and the surrounding area.
The BTA’s vision is to offer a full range of tennis activities that would enhance the lives of those living in the Bainbridge area.
The goals of the BTA are as follows:
- Enhance the organization through helping to provide customer service.
- Assist in increasing participation in all tennis programs.
- Support recreational and competitive tennis programs and events.
- Promote awareness of tennis programs, events and activities at the center.
- Stay educated with current tennis developments of new leagues, new tennis opportunities and new methods of communication.
- Support the Bainbridge Tennis director and the City of Bainbridge Tennis programs.
- Volunteer time and talents to the City Tennis Programs as captains, coordinators, BTA board members, clinic organizers, social organizers, junior team captains, umpires, referees and promoters of the game of tennis.
The BTA is proud of its past history with the City of Bainbridge. We feel confident as we move forward that tennis will remain an avid sport for the residents of Bainbridge and the surrounding area. Bainbridge will continue to be an epicenter for juniors and adults.
BTA Board of Directors
- JTT-Ezra Lusk, Hope Toole, Ginger Jones
- League-Tabitha Spooner, Amy Thomas, Shari Allen, Carole Floyd
- Community Development-Judy Nichols, Crystal Adams, Tim Thompson
- Budget and Finance-Linda Monson, Judi Nichols, George Floyd, Carole Floyd
- Marketing-Crystal Adams, Shari Allen, Marcia Ray, Kent Forrester
- Tournament Committee-Tim Thompson, Carole Floyd, Crystal Adams, Al Kelly
Roles and Responsibilities of Board of Directors
President– Shall be the chief elected officer of the Association and serve as a non-voting ex-officia member of all committees. He/She will exercise personal leadership in the motivation of other officers, board members, committee chairs, and membership.
Vice-President– Shall assist the President in the performance of duties and shall exercise all the powers of the President in the case of absence, resignation, removal, incapacity or death.
Secretary-Shall assist the President in the performance of his/her duties. He/she is the official “keeper of the records” and is responsible for recording the minutes of all Board meetings as well as other duties as outlined in the bylaws.
Treasurer-Shall assist the President in the performance of his/her duties. He/she serves as the “keeper of the check book” and ensures the integrity of the fiscal affairs of the BTA.
Board Members-Responsibilities are assigned to Board Members according to their interests and with the intention of covering all the areas of tennis since we are an all functioning CTA offering a wide range of programs to the Bainbridge and southwest Georgia communities.
Committees are formedby the President with the assistance of the Executive Director and Tennis Director. These committees are Junior Team Tennis, Adult League, Community Development , Budget and Finance, and Marketing. Other ad hoc committees are formed according to the needs of the BTA.
Board /Staff Relations
The Board and Executive Director work as partners. This partnership is essential for achieving the mission, vision and goals of the BTA. The role of the Board is that of governance and leadership, setting a course for the future, and monitoring progress. The role of the staff is that of management, executing current programs, and tending to the ongoing administrative needs. Together they advance the cause of the organization.