Atlanta council committee moves new tennis management contract forward

The revenue calculations were made prior to the COVID-19 pandemic. Currently the city’s tennis facilities only allow singles matches, but no lessons because of the virus.

Many tennis enthusiasts credit Universal Tennis Management with reviving the publicly owned tennis courts and managing them well over the years. There has been a groundswell of public opposition against any change in operations. Agape, however, scored higher during the bidding process last year.

But the city decided to rebid the contract after hiring a new park’s commissioner. Again, Agape won the award based on the city’s procurement rules.

A report from the Auditor’s Office found that Universal Tennis violated an anti-lobbying provision during the bidding by mounting a social media campaign to influence the award, and could have been disqualified.

The city’s law department also found that the same provision could have also disqualified Agape. That report did not specify why.

The committee on Tuesday listened to more than an hour of public comments — virtually all opposed to any change in management.

Henry Vincent, former president of the Washington Park Tennis Association, told the committee that Universal Tennis’ coaches worked tirelessly to build relationships within the community.

Tom Wakefield told the committee that Universal’s superior record outweighed the risk of change.

“I’m asking this committee to take into consideration the breadth and the successful experience that (Universal) has provided the city up until this point,” he said.

The committee voted to refer the contract — without recommendation, meaning the committee is not endorsing the legislation one way or the other — to the full council, which meets Sept. 8.

Committee members Matt Westmoreland, Natalyn Archibong, Michael Julian Bond abstained from the vote. Members Carla Smith, Amir Farokhi and Jennifer Joyce voted in favor.

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