The center is still not in prospect, but under the duress existing courts were improved and Raoul Tayon, the city's recreation supervisor, was given a "healthier budget" that included plans to sprinkle 21 more courts throughout the city. "Our attitude," said Tayon, "is that there's never enough. We can't build them fast enough."
Don Carleton, area representative for Wilson Sporting Goods and president of the Colorado Youth Tennis Foundation, was no more optimistic. "Too many people are learning how to play," said Carle-ton, "then going out and discovering the courts are already taken. Often they are occupied by people taking lessons who won't find a place to play when they've learned. We have overpromoted the sport. It has gotten away from us."
"How long you been waiting?"
"Almost an hour."
"An hour? Well, hell, that ain't bad. Hang in there. We waited almost two hours last night for a court. You play here often?"
"My first time. I don't think I've got it figured out yet. I mean, I don't know when my turn comes up. There doesn't seem to be a pattern."
"Naw, you're on your own here. You have to wait it out or you challenge."
The visitor's interrogator is a hairy young man in his early 20s. He is wearing glasses and a black-and-gold sweat shirt designated as PROPERTY STOLEN FROM THE UNIVERSITY OF COLORADO ATHLETIC DEPARTMENT, and he is leaning against the fence with his racket between his knees.
"I could tell you hadn't played here," he says, gesturing. "Your whites. Most of us don't wear them. As you can see, formal tennis this ain't."
The visitor has been waiting since the lights came on at the City Park courts, blanching out the elm trees behind and giving the busy scene a filtered, gossamery quality. From his vantage point on a bench beside the walkway dividing the two rows of courts, four on each side, the visitor can watch the action all around through the chain link fencing. There are no windscreens to conceal play. He can also see a horseshoe game in progress way on the other side but the sounds of the shoes hitting home are muffled by the noise on the courts. Behind each court there is at least one waiting party.