Greene Ridge earns USTA national award

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SNOW HILL — Bobby Taylor has an aversion to flying.

But he’ll gladly put that aside later this month for a good cause.

Taylor, the owner and operator of Greene Ridge Racquet Club in Snow Hill, recently had his club honored by the United States Tennis Association in its 37th annual Facility Awards program, which recognizes “excellence in the construction and/or renovation of tennis facilities throughout the country.”

Taylor and Greene Ridge will be honored at the USTA’s Semiannual Meeting on Aug. 30 at the Grand Hyatt Hotel in New York City to coincide with the U.S. Open. He’ll also get a pair of all-day grounds passes to the Open in Flushing Meadow, N.Y.

“I’ve turned down tickets probably 10 to 12 times to go to the U.S. Open because I really don’t like to fly,” Taylor said in a telephone interview Tuesday. “So we got two tickets and I tried to get my daughter and wife to go represent, but they’re making me go. Which I should go, and I appreciate going. I appreciate the award, obviously. But it will be my first time going to the big city of New York — for anything!”

Taylor, also the co-owner of Lake Wilson Tennis Club alongside Charles Strader, oversaw six tournaments at Greene Ridge last year that attracted roughly 400 players. When he was contacted Tuesday, Taylor was hard at work prepping the lines for a USTA Coastal Plain League match in Snow Hill.

“It’s good to see a small town win some type of award like that, rather than Atlanta, Boston or Charlotte every time you turn around,” Taylor said. “I thought someone had nominated us for the North Carolina award, then when I got the email from New York telling us to come up to the U.S. Open on August 30 to be presented an award and here’s you two tickets, I had to call the North Carolina lady and ask her — what does this mean?”

Facility awards were handed out in three categories — public centers with two to 10 courts, large public centers with 11 or more courts, and private facilities. Greene Ridge, with its nine outdoor clay courts and lights for nighttime play, was the only facility in North Carolina to win an award in any category. A requirement for the award was spending at least $10,000 worth of improvements, something Greene Ridge has easily dwarfed by doubling the size of its fitness area. About two-thirds of Greene Ridge’s tennis-playing membership comes from outside the county line. Opened in 2000, Greene Ridge began with four clay courts before reaching expanding to its current number of nine.

“This year, I went for adding on to the workout facility,” Taylor said. “Because sometimes you get here and it starts to rain, and you’ve drove all the way 20 miles from wherever to come here, and you have nothing to do.”

The recognition will come at a busy time on the calendar for Taylor, taking place one week after the 36th annual Snow HIll/Lenoir Community College Foundation Tennis Classic at Greene Ridge. It’s likely the largest USTA adult tournament in the state situated east of Raleigh.

But for Taylor and Greene Ridge, both will embrace Snow Hill and Greene Central as a central hub.

“The positive is, we’re 20 miles from everything,” Taylor said. “The negative is, we’re 20 miles from everything. It equals itself out.”