Incline Village tennis community serves up hope | SierraSun.com

Incline Village tennis community serves up hope

Carole Bernardi | Special to the Bonanza
A group of residents after a game of pickleball at the Incline Tennis Center this summer.
Courtesy Jen Schmidt Photography |

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Visit yourtahoeplace.com/parks-recreation/tennis-center to learn more about the IVGID Tennis Center.

INCLINE VILLAGE, Nev. — One of the funnier anecdotes said about the game of tennis is, “You only live once, but you get to serve twice.”

You could say this adage applies to the tennis community in Incline Village, where players of all variety feel a sense of pride and frustration over a venue that is part of the Incline Village General Improvement District crown jewels (golf, ski and beaches).

A couple of years back, between Bill Horn’s retirement as IVGID General Manager and Steve Pinkerton’s hire, an observation was made by an avid tennis player and resident.

That person asked how the trustees viewed the Tennis Center and pointedly suggested they should decide on either turning it into a public park or hire a Tennis Director and get down to business.

The Trustees didn’t take long to respond to this observation and with great hubris committed to “preserving and providing a full service center to the community.”

Parks & Recreation Director, Indra Winquest, validated that commitment when he addressed a large turnout of the tennis community, on site at the tennis center, professing IVGID’s first act would be hiring a “new” Tennis Director.

After a traditional search and panel evaluation, IVGID confirmed Serena Quarelli as Tennis Director.

Now, having just completed her second year this season, Quarelli has found the challenges sometimes daunting, but more than often rewarding.

“My second year was even busier than the first, and my goal continues to discover what the members want from their tennis center facility,” she said. “They’re a vocal group and we couldn’t have come this far without their comments and collaboration.”

‘A SOCIAL ATMOSPHERE’

Just as golf and ski have their instructors, so does tennis, and with the hiring of Serena came the return of Randy Berg as Head Tennis Professional.

Randy’s winter post is at Indian Ridge Club in Palm Desert, Calif., and he looks forward to coming to Tahoe each summer.

“Randy has done an amazing job in his second year (and first as Head Pro) with his adult clinics and private lessons, for those who are taking up the game for the first time or working on their game,” says Quarelli.

Joshua Olivias, of Carson City, was a new hire this season and brought with him his years of experience on the pro circuit to our junior players.

From junior camps to top-level tournament play, Joshua’s passion and big heart brought the junior program to a whole new level.

Helping out were two college players, sisters Rachana and Kirtana Bhat (representing New Mexico and Oklahoma), bringing new life to the youth and camp programs.

“A social atmosphere is contagious,” Winquest says.

Once the Tennis Center’s staffing came together, the members rallied by forming a Social Committee that exceeded all expectations.

Headed by Diane Wendel, with a support group of a dozen or so other members, each Wednesday evening offered mixed doubles play with a “themed” potluck afterward.

Participation averaged more than 20 people per week, with themes like “South of the Border,” “New York, New York” (US Open), “An Evening in Paris” (French Open), and “Beer n’ Brats.”

Wendel, who is a high-energy mentor of bringing people together, exudes enthusiasm over the outcome.

“Many of those who came out on Wednesday nights began to play more tennis as new friendships were made between members, and the pros,” she said. “Husbands became more active in the sport and the atmosphere was friendlier, less competitive and it carried over to the courts and clinics.

WHAT THE FUTURE MAY HOLD

Still, the fight for Tennis Center capital improvement is necessary to keep players happy, and growth a guarantee.

This past season, several courts were resurfaced with the new “Open Blue” color scheme, and the Pro Shop got a facelift (with private tennis member contributions via the nonprofit Tahoe Foundation).

Additional patio seating with new patio pavers, plus a large storage shed, rounded out the renovations.

“At this point, we’re going through a tennis feasibility analysis to determine what types of opportunities and capital improvements are out there,” says Winquest.

High on the request list is new decking, complete with permanent shading cover, new bathroom facilities, an improved online reservation system and a refurbished kitchen area.

The “Big Wish” still centers on installing 1-2 covered courts.

Additionally this past season, two courts were lined for pickleball to keep up with the growing demand of this popular sport.

It’s not uncommon to see 20-25 pickleball players during scheduled activities, proof that the TC faces more growing pains to accommodate more players.

“We have budgeted funds (this year) to update our Recreational Master Plan,” Pinkerton said. “This will help us identify priorities for the replacement of facilities, and also identify opportunities to modernize facilities when they are updated.”

IVGID promises to have plenty of public meetings to get community input, which is why it’s important for Tennis Center members to come forward and attend IVGID Trustee Meetings, from time to time, to voice their support.

Carole Bernardi is an Incline Village resident and a freelance writer. Email her at Cthewriter@aol.com.