I have been playing tennis for the last 23 years. I have also had the great fortune to be a USTA official umpire and ITA referee for 24 years. While I am not a Wellington resident, I choose to play at the Wellington Tennis Center, primarily because of the programs it offers and because of the pros there. It is an excellent program and the best in the county.
It has come to my attention that the Parks & Recreational Advisory Board reviewed six companies who bid on the contract for the tennis center. They eliminated two at a previous meeting and asked back four bidders, requiring they give presentations before the board.
The PRAB chose one bidder above the rest, ranking him in first place, while ranking a largely unknown entity second and the current provider in third — the company that has been successfully running the tennis center for the last 15 years was ranked third.
I have looked, and there are no complaints against Cheatham Inc. I have asked many passholders and players at the tennis center if they are happy with the current situation of management, and they are all beyond satisfied. How then, does a non-tennis-playing board make the decision to fix something that isn’t broken? What are the qualifications of Dr. Falzone, Dr. Zipp, Mr. Pignato, Mr. Christmas and Mr. Flemming? Correct me if I’m wrong, but do any of these men have any idea on what it takes to run a tennis facility, let alone unceremoniously remove a current provider? I highly doubt that Dr. Falzone would be OK with his fellow board members picking a director of ob/gyn at his place of business, and the same goes for the rest of the board members.
After looking and reviewing the meetings and presentations of the bidders, it becomes clear to anyone who possesses even a little amount of tennis knowledge, that the PRAB was blown away by “bells and whistles” and failed to check obvious misinformation. The provider who was ranked first didn’t have any solid information, just promises and ideas. One item in particular stands out and should have given the board anxiety. The bidder claims that he will have a 4 to 1 player to pro ratio in his women’s team clinics. That would mean there would be 4 pros per team, and they would most likely not be paid the $70 per hour they customarily get. Who are these mythical pros he thinks he’s going to get for a $40 per hour fee?
Here is a fact that the PRAB failed to grasp: just because someone played a doubles match against the Williams sisters doesn’t qualify them to run a tennis center.
Why was this decision given to the PRAB? What qualifications do they possess? Why is the village allowing them to recommend a provider for the tennis center? The newly opened tennis center is a $5 million facility, and the previous council has cavalierly passed the decision over to an ill-qualified board. Why wasn’t staff given this task?
Another disturbing issue here is the fact that it seems some providers were given second and third chances, while others were outright eliminated. This seems arbitrary at the very least; suspicious at worst.
I am asking that the Village of Wellington reconsider the recommendation of the PRAB. Please thoroughly check into the numbers being thrown out by the bidders. While Cheatham Tennis Inc. may be able to make changes, at least we can all rest assured that his numbers are proven facts and not hopeful projections. The Wellington Tennis Center is not Mirasol Country Club. It is a municipality that should keep the current management program. Please seriously consider this request.
Sally Edwards, Suburban Lake Worth