Tennis center receives top award

The Fountain Valley Tennis Center was selected as Southern California's tennis organization of the year.

The center was selected by the Southern California division of the United States Tennis Assn., which is recognized by the Olympics, for its work with the community to promote the sport and for taking a leadership role with young players.

Darren Potkey, manager of the junior competition at the Southern California Tennis Assn., said the tennis center does so much for its community that it was time to recognize its efforts.

"A lot of times, all the big, nice tennis clubs get all the attention," he said. "Sometimes, it's really important to recognize the people who are on the front line promoting grassroots tennis on all levels, and they definitely fit that description."

Potkey said he nominated the tennis center, and it was selected by the board and the staff members who voted.

The tennis center is part of the city's Recreation and Community Services Division. Melinda Alger and her husband, Don, have operated it for the city since 1987, Melinda Alger said.

While the center partners with the Southern California association to bring tournaments to Fountain Valley, the managers keep it limited. Putting on a lot of tournaments would take away from the center's ability to keep it a community organization that is open for everyone to enjoy the game, Melinda Alger said.

"We're a public facility that's open to the public for play at all times," she said.

Michael Nguyen is one of those community members who said the tennis center is the perfect place for him to learn the game for recreational purposes.

"My girlfriend plays tennis, and I wanted to be able to play with her," Nguyen, 25, said. "She's really good."

Although he tried to learn on YouTube, the Garden Grove resident said there are a lot of techniques required to be able to play. His teacher is the Algers' son, Russ.

Don Alger, a retired schoolteacher, has been a certified United States Professional Tennis Assn. coach for 40 years. He is also among the center's tennis coaches.

The Southern California Tennis Assn. announced in February that the center was selected as a member organization of the year. The award will be presented Monday during the association's annual meeting at the Straus Clubhouse at UCLA, Potkey said.

"We're very honored to be nominated and selected as the organization of the year," Melinda Alger said. "There are a lot of clubs and tennis facilities in Southern California and they chose us, and we're very thrilled and very excited."

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