The COVID-19 pandemic put tennis on hold for many when InShape management restricted access and tennis play at their sports clubs in 2020. But some stepped forward to find a way. Tim Tieu and his wife Helen Dangtran were two who seized the initiative and made tennis possible for many.
Since tennis is an outdoor sport, they recognized the opportunity to play on courts available around the community.
Tim and Helen initially started playing with people in their bubble, like family members. After a while, they polled players from their recent past to see if they would be interested in forming a friendly mixed doubles tennis league. It would be a great way not only to stay healthy and active but also to improve their game. Since tennis was new to many in their group, the proposed league would also offer an opportunity to meet new people with different styles of play.
The initial 12 player mixed doubles league (6 males and 6 females) lasted six weeks and was a great success. So successful that they followed up with a 24 player mixed doubles league (12 males and 12 females), picking up players through word of mouth. Again, a major success.
These ad hoc mixed doubles leagues kept their group busy until USTA league play started again in 2021. Tim jumped in to captain the men’s 40+ 3.0 team and Helen was the strength of the women’s 40+ 2.5 team with an 8-1 record. Both teams (home-based at Centennial Park) won their league playoffs and competed at the NorCal Sectional Championships in Sacramento.
Sometime in 2003, Stu Travis, Paul Merwin, and a few friends decided to start a recurring fun drop-in tennis experience on the Rancho Solano courts in Fairfield. The “Rotators” was born. The players and rules of play have evolved over time; even the name has morphed into Golden Rotators. But the central theme of having fun has remained paramount. Social tennis at its best! Scores are kept only during each game to know when the game is over. Players rotate positions after every game. There is a plan to rotate waiting players in and around the court between games. Everyone gets to play in an organized non-competitive way.
When access to the Rancho Solano courts was denied during the COVID-19 pandemic, Stu and his team took the Golden Rotator play to the courts at Solano Community College. They are now back on the Rancho Solano courts every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday morning at 9:00 AM. Stu’s e-mail contact list for the Golden Rotators now includes at least 60 players.
Thank you, Stu and Paul, for making tennis fun and available!
The clock was ticking and time was not on our side. On April 24, 2021, roughly a year after USTA/NorCal cancelled league play due to the COVID-19 pandemic, NorCal announced that USTA league play would resume. The team registration period for two of the upcoming leagues opened two days later and closed on May 10, 2021.
In-Shape corporate policy prohibiting non-member entry into their clubs at Rancho Solano, Dover, and Browns Valley meant teams could not be registered to host play at those clubs. They had been our tennis bases and were the only courts approved for USTA league play. Could we make league tennis happen again in the northern Solano County area?
A survey of other four-court (minimum) complexes in the Fairfield/Vacaville area offered many options. USTA NorCal requirements for league play were straightforward but the process took time. Access to, and availability of, SCC and school district courts was limited. The only public facility with a nearby restroom during league play was Centennial Park. Could we get those courts approved before the team registration period closed?
Elizabeth Crisante, Recreation Supervisor for the City of Vacaville Parks and Recreation Department, had been briefed on the changed status of tennis in the City on March 31, 2021. When the decision was made to pursue the use of the courts at Centennial Park for league play, Elizabeth initially cautioned that the City processes took time and the USTA NorCal deadline would be a challenge. Then, she stepped up and attacked the process. She created her profile and opened a USTA account. Then, she submitted the Non-Member Organization Request to USTA to have the Centennial Park courts added to the list of approved facilities. She worked with USTA/NorCal to put the required liability insurance in place. Finally, she developed the court reservation process to ensure court availability for league play. By May 5th, the deal was done and captains were able to register their teams for league play.
Thank you, Elizabeth, for your support and perseverance in making league tennis available for our community as we came through the pandemic. You made it possible for our players to get back out on the courts for organized tennis.
Elizabeth continues to be the SCTA’s primary point of contact with the City of Vacaville.
Just as a house is not a home until personality takes up residence there, a tennis court offers opportunity that needs organized activity to foster and grow a tennis family. A key component in building and
nurturing a tennis community is the USPTA professional. That pro, in large part, is the heart and soul of
the tennis family.
The COVID19 pandemic shut down organized recreational tennis in the Spring of 2020. As restrictions were lifted, disparate groups picked up their rackets and returned to the courts for recreational play. But, until the Spring of 2021, nothing organized.
With the tennis director position deleted at the three InShape clubs, there was no legitimate way for local USPTA pros to interact with the players. Aaron King recognized the need and saw a path forward. He
incorporated Solano Tennis and contracted with the city of Vacaville to provide beginner and intermediate clinics for adults and camps/programs for the kids. From the Spring of 2020 to the Fall of 2021, he
accounted for over 400 tennis interactions with children and over 150 with adults.
It was a start. It kept the heart beating. It was the beginning of the next chapter.
Thank you, Aaron, for your role in keeping tennis alive during this challenging time.
Pandemic response restrictions had eased enough in March 2021 that USTA announced league
play would return in the April-May timeframe. Unfortunately, the three local In-Shape clubs
retained their no-guest policy, meaning that they could not host league teams and match play.
Local players were eager to resume play but had lost their traditional team home bases.
Individual players and team captains looked for host courts. Green Valley Country Club offered
tennis-only memberships. NVTA/Vintage allowed players to join and captains to register teams.
Several players joined Bay area teams. The City of Vacaville was amenable to city park courts
being used for league play but there was no guarantee that we could meet all the USTA, City of
Vacaville, and NorCal requirements in time for the season start in May. Thankfully, it happened,
and we had procedures and insurance in place by May 5th, just days before the team registration
The captains did their thing in those few days and registered five teams to start play in June
2021 and two more in July 2021. Kudos to Aaron King, Laura Manelia, Robyn Sickler, Paula
Martin, Ed Manelia, Rommel Bautista, Mike Fischer, Leslee Fowler, Tim Tieu, Bob Knight, and
Tony Mras for taking the lead and making local tennis possible with team play on the Centennial
Park courts. Then, we finished the 2021 year with four teams in league play starting in
September 2021 as more captains stepped forward, among them Chamane Ifland, Cynthia
Oanes, Bobby Jacoby, Ledy Delfin-Icatar, and Helen Dangtran.
Although the court environment was austere, the tennis community came to accept that league
play was possible at Centennial Park. Local teams and players returned home to play. Captains
registered 12 teams to begin play on the Centennial Park courts in January 2022! Add Angie
Vallejo, Dilcie Paschall, Lisa Tong, Andrea Hsu, Rich Foft, and John Agcaoli to the list of captains
making it possible for players to compete on local teams.
For most adults, tennis is league play. The camaraderie and competition generated by team play in many ways becomes the heart and soul, the psyche, of our tennis family. Our tradition –our story. And league play does not happen without team captains.
Thank you, team captains, for your leadership and passion for tennis.