City takes control of Payne Park Tennis, hires Harris as new Supervisor

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Payne Park, located in the heart of downtown Sarasota, serves up one of Sarasota’s favorite public amenities – 12 courts of soft surface tennis.

In two weeks, control of the tennis center and the park will transfer from Sarasota County to the City and a change in tennis center leadership is pending.

According to City Parks and Recreation Department Director Jerry Fogle, the tennis facility will see immediate renovation work to the dilapidated and hole-ridden shade canopies and other infrastructure.

For years, tennis players have had to contend with warm water in the courtside drinking fountains as well as a general aura of deferred maintenance. The county has managed the park even though the facility is owned by the city.

Fogle says that there are no plans to change the fees to play or the hours of operation for the time-being. He said the city is in the mode of seeking input from the numerous residents who regularly play.

“We want to do the absolute best we can and this facility is a treasure in the city,” said Fogle.

Fogle told Longboat and Sarasota City News that there are absolutely no plans for pickle ball, which will bring relief to tennis players.


Change in leadership

Tumeka Harris

On Thursday, Sept. 13, the city Human Resources Department said it had offered the job of Payne Park Tennis Center Supervisor to

Tumeka Harris, who currently heads the tennis program at St. Stephens in Bradenton. Harris accepted the position over the weekend and is due to start on Sept. 18 at a starting wage of at a wage of $28.1741 per hour.

Harris played collegiately at Michigan University, helping the Wolverines to the 1997 Big Ten title before turning pro on the Women’s Tennis Association Tour. She then coached at the Manhattan Racquet Club in New York City.

The position is charged with overseeing the tennis clay courts, staff, contracted employees, cash and transactions and memberships as well as developing programming with youth leagues, camps, events, tournaments and lessons.

The City currently has posted another position as Recreation Leader, which is still currently open to applicants and will work under the supervisor.

Fogle says he plans to introduce Harris at a public meeting to be held on Sept. 26 at 2 p.m. at the Payne Park Auditorium, located next to the Tennis Center at 2100 Laurel St. Fogle hopes that tennis players and center users come to the meeting where the future of the center will be discussed and the city will seek input from the public to help in the evolution of the facility.

For more information, call 941-954-4182 with questions.

The park was originally developed as a ball park in 1924, and was a long-time spring training site for the Boston Red Sox, Chicago White Sox and New York Giants. The ball park was demolished after Ed Smith Stadium was constructed in 1989.

The City re-opened the site as Payne Park in 2007, and the entire 29-acre space includes a skateboard park, Frisbee golf course, walking and biking trails, a small lake and café that serves lunch and refreshments. In 2012, the City opened the Circus playground featuring a small water park.

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1 Response for “City takes control of Payne Park Tennis, hires Harris as new Supervisor”

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