Tennis Anyone?

Through Elizabethton Parks and Recreation Department, esteemed tennis instructor ready to make presence felt on local level

By Kim Richardson
STAR Correspondent

   If you're one of the many citizens of Elizabethton who have yearned for a local venue in which to hone your tennis skills, but instead you've had to trek into Washington County to do so, David McQueen, athletic coordinator of The Elizabethton Parks and Recreation Center, has very good news for you.
   Beginning immediately you can practice your game in Elizabethton. What's more, McQueen has received commitment from one of the very best tennis instructors, not only in our region, but indeed, nationwide, in the person of Mr. Alford Aaron.
   Aaron played tennis for the University of Houston in Texas on scholarship years ago. He went on to become the head pro at a number of clubs throughout the United States, including one of the largest camps in New England, and led the PAL or Public Athletic League of Detroit, Michigan.
   But luckily for Carter County, Aaron is obliged through not only his desire to help kids everywhere, and in every walk of life, but his present marital status confirms his local commitment, as he is married to Elizabethton High School and East Tennessee State University graduate, the former Cathy Welch.
   Mrs. Aaron's father, the late Gordon Welch Sr., was one of the driving forces behind the origination of the Elizabethton Boys Club.
   "I just love helping kids," stated Aaron. "And I don't care at all what level you're at when you come to learn from me. I'll see to it that you go from A to Z in the game of tennis, and I'll make sure that each individual and team member gets his or her full time in, regardless of the time I have to invest." 
   Aaron will be offering lessons in various forms and at all ability levels.
   "No one should be discouraged from attempting to play this wonderful game; the game I so love," said Aaron. "In fact, it's often better to be at the beginning level for so many players.  I often have to spend much time with some of the otherwise more advanced players, having them un-learn some bad habits in order to help them improve upon their game." 
   "But the rewards are great," continued Coach Aaron. "This is all about taking potential tennis players from A to Z (a favorite saying of the coach). By this I mean that I truly stress the fundamentals of the game."
   It's readily apparent the love Coach Alford Aaron has for the game of tennis. And there are many local instructors who have already witnessed his abilities up close.
   So this bold endeavor with the Parks and Recreation is really nothing new to the man who taught hundreds of minority kids in the ghettos of Detroit in years past. 
   Coach Aaron has worked with many of the best our community has to offer.
   "Joyce Sweeney of West Side Elementary has been marvelous over the years," said Aaron, "and there's Ruth Jackson of Unicoi County High School, to name a couple."
   To be the best one has to work with the best, and Aaron has no shortage of references.  ETSU head tennis coach Yaser Zaatini is but one of the many outstanding coaches to have worked side by side with Aaron. In fact, Yaser helped Aaron teach in his camp this past summer with the "Cream of the Crop" tennis players in this area.
   McQueen should be given due recognition for his efforts in helping appeal to the services of Aaron.
   "We feel that we have one of the very best to be found, not only in Carter County, but throughout the region and the country for that matter," stated McQueen.
   "I will organize tennis leagues and teams to play locally and travel outside the area," said Aaron. "The youth of our area will be groomed to play for their school teams, including helping them get tennis scholarships for college.
   "I feel that I can give the people a chance to receive quality tennis lessons at an affordable rate here, without having to travel outside the city."
   Private lessons will be provided at a very reasonable rate of $25 per hour, considerably lower than the often forth-plus dollars outside the area.
   Semi-private lessons are $30, again lower than most other areas. Coach Aaron will even be offering a class lesson at $40. There will also be Tennis Camps, to be announced very soon.
   Coach Aaron stresses that tennis will be taught to: "Anyone willing to put forth the effort to learn to play this wonderful game, at all levels. And I especially like to work with the youth, to groom them for tournaments and their school teams."
   "I have been blessed, and I want to extend the blessings granted to me by a much higher authority by contributing to the local youth, as tennis has been so good to me throughout my life," Aaron said. "I think there are many in our area ready and willing to take this game and use it for self-improvement, and to help them develop not only great athletic skills, but as well, skills that will assist them in their professional lives."
   The STAR sports department will be providing updates as they're made available. We will post schedule alterations and openings as they're brought to our attention.