No doubt the top Galveston County Daily News tennis story for 2017 was the announcement of a potential 18-court tennis center being built on the island.

For years the much-needed tennis facility was just a suggested dream. Now it looks like it could be a dream come true, thanks to the tireless effort of local tennis enthusiast Josephine “Beep” Sullivan.

“The center offers the perfect mix of community development, tourism attractiveness and inclusive for those with physical and intellectual disabilities who often have few options to explore their athletic abilities,” said Sullivan, executive director of the Christina Grillo Sullivan Foundation.

The proposed tennis center would be home of the United States Tennis Association adaptive tennis program, a first of its kind in this neck of the woods already in the works at Menard Park’s Scoggins-Stiglich Courts.

The four-acre complex will be comprised of 12 outdoor courts and six additional indoor courts, as well as locker rooms, a pro shop, multiuse space and parking.

“It has been my honor to work with GEDP (Galveston Economic Development Partnership), city officials and business leaders to bring this amazing opportunity to the island and the Gulf Coast region,” Sullivan said.

“It is a true blessing and will change so many lives.”

The tennis complex has gotten support from many throughout the city, including GEDP president Jeffrey Sjostrom.

Sullivan said the tennis center will allow the foundation to expand the adaptive tennis program, offering year-round activities such as league tournaments and camps.

Outside the adaptive tennis program, a variety of USTA and high school tournaments, including one of the state’s largest, the Beachcomber Classic, could be hosted by the facility.

The tennis center also will play host to Special Olympics and other annual events set up for individuals with disabilities and their families.

The GEDP currently is working with the foundation to find a suitable site selection for the complex, possibly near Scholes International Airport adjacent to Moody Gardens, or on the east end of the island by Lindale Park.

When asked if the tennis center will, indeed, become a reality, Sullivan quietly answers with a reassuring positive smile, one she has been donning since day one.

HAPPY HOLIDAY

Dickinson’s Eric Storey and League City’s Isabella Benson won singles titles at the Holiday Adult & Junior Open tennis tournament hosted by Bay Area Racquet Club in Clear Lake City.

Storey lived up to his No. 1 seed in the men’s 3.5 event, winning three rounds in all, including a hard-fought 7-6 (7-3), 6-4 finals victory over Houston’s No. 2-seeded James Meneely.

Earlier, Storey defeated Cypress’ Dillin Hang in the quarterfinals, 6-2, 6-3, and Bobby Cox of Bossier City, La., in the semifinals, 6-2, 6-1.

As for Benson, she went 2-0 in round-robin play in the coed 10-and-under orange-ball division.

Benson beat Houston’s Ahed Abukmail in round one, 4-2, 4-1, then defeated Friendswood’s Brileigh Hogue in round two. 4-1, 4-0, to complete the sweep.

Hogue later lost to Abukmail, the eventual runner-up, in round three, 4-2, 4-3.

JUST A REMINDER

The city of Galveston Parks & Recreation Department is offering free junior tennis classes at the Scoggins-Stiglich Courts from 10 a.m. to noon Tuesday through Friday.

However, if the cold weather is too unbearable on Tuesday, the classes will start Wednesday and extend into Saturday.

Instructing the two-hour sessions for beginner, intermediate and advanced players will be Tracy Singleton and yours truly.

For information, call 409-797-3700.

TIME RUNNING OUT

Today is the last day to take advantage of a discounted price of $725 for this summer’s Texas A&M University Tennis Camp.

That is $100 off the regular price of $825.

To sign up for one or more of the three sessions in June (17-22 and 24-29) and July (22-27), see the camp’s website at www.texasaggietenniscamp.com.

For information, call camp co-director Bobby Kleinecke at 979-777-0621 or email him at kleinecke@me.com.

WHY TENNIS?

A survey taken by the United States Tennis Association shows tennis participation positively influences the lives of America’s youth across all socioeconomic levels.

Youth who play tennis get better grades (48 percent have an “A” average and spend more time studying); have college aspirations (81 percent say they will attend college and more say they will graduate from college).

Also, are better behaved (73 percent have never been sent to the principal’s office and fewer are suspended or expelled); and are more community-minded and well-rounded (82 percent volunteer in their communities and more are engaged in extracurricular activities).

With regard to health issues and risky behaviors, youth who play tennis also are more likely not to drink, smoke and use marijuana and are less likely to be overweight or at-risk for being overweight.

For the full report, visit www.ustaserves.com.

TIP OF THE DAY

You always want to serve with two tennis balls in hand (one in pocket).

Chasing down a ball after serving a fault interrupts your rhythm and makes the match last longer than it needs to.

Manuel Moreno Jr.: mmjtenicon@aol.com

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