Tennis Camp Finds Love at Governors’ Academy

Let’s start with the happy endings:

(1) Coach Pete’s Tennis Camp will continue to exist,

(2) The Pentucket school district will have control of its tennis courts in the summer and,

(3) Governors’ Academy will make money renting out its tennis courts during the summer.

Things weren’t so rosy a month ago. “Around the end of March I believed that I wasn’t going to be having a camp,” said Pete Kolifrath, the director of Coach Pete’s Tennis Camp.

For two summers, the 40-year-old tennis pro had used Pentucket’s tennis courts and expected to continue there in 2008.

He submitted his application in September (2007) but didn’t hear back right away. Finally, in late November he got a call from the superintendent’s office explaining that tennis court usage would be discussed at a school committee meeting in January (2008).

The day after the meeting, Kolifrath heard from Pentucket superintendent Paul Livingston.  “He told me that Pentucket was interested in running its own tennis camp on the courts in the summer and asked if I would run it for them.  If not, he wanted the camp hours to be lessened.”  Kolifrath wasn’t interested in either of the options and informed friends of his camp what had happened. 

That led to a letter/email writing campaign in which the superintendent and school committee members heard from about 50 friends of Coach Pete’s Tennis Camp.

The next school committee meeting (February 12th) turned confrontational as thirty friends of the tennis camp were on hand prepared to voice their support for the camp.

“That meeting was disappointing,” said the Merrimac resident.  “They only let a few of us speak and concluded that the decision about the camp was up to Superintendent Livingston.  The superintendent wanted me to pay an extra $12,000 to keep the camp the way we had operated it the previous two summers.”

While Coach Pete began quickly looking around for alternative sites for the camp, letter writers sent their opinions to local papers regarding the camp.  Some supported it while others were glad to see it leaving Pentucket.

Late in March, Coach Pete had one of those days that you never forget. 

First, he was mad after an email from the Pentucket superintendent ended any hope of his tennis camp being at Pentucket. 

Next, he was encouraged after getting an optimistic phone call from Stacey Sartori (mother of a tennis camper) of Amesbury.  “She said that something good would happen because there’s always a silver lining.”

Finally, he was elated when Karen Gold of Governors’ Academy emailed to offer the new courts there for the camp’s use.  “Believe me, I had to read that email twice to make sure my eyes weren’t deceiving me!”

In a week a deal was in place with Governors’ Academy.  “We’re delighted to be there even though it will cost a little bit more,” said Pete. “It’s a much nicer facility. 

The specifics for Coach Pete’s Tennis Camp are at www.communitytennis.org

( Submitted to The Town Common on April 22nd )

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