Barring any other delays, the ribbon will be cut at the new Dr O.K. Matthews tennis center at the Milton Community Center on March 7 at 10 a.m. Brian Watkins, city manager, said the date was pushed back a week so that a member of the Matthews family would be able to attend the ceremony.
Right now, according to Randy Jorgenson, city planning director, Milton High School has already begun using the courts. Students previously used the Pensacola State College courts. Watkins said, "It's good because it's within walking distance." He also said programs are in development for youth and adults interested in learning the game. The facility will offer instructors from the local chapter of the United States Tennis Association such as Mario Alvarez, a teacher, he said, of three decades. Alvarez said he charges $50 an hour with 10 to 15 percent going to the facility until it's further developed. He said he plans to teach private and semi-private from groups of two to three to potentially more.
Alvarez said he's previously coached at Escambia High School, Pine Forest High School, and Pensacola High School. He said he also taught at Milton High School from 1995 to 2000 and happy to be a panther once again.
Alvarez also competed, as he does regularly, in the Under the Hill league at the Roger Scott Tennis Center in Pensacola. The league features players at least 50 years old.
Alvarez also said he'll be appearing at the West Florida Public Library on March 3 as an honored guest during the screening of director Christopher Rufo's documentary Age of Champions, featuring stories of National Senior Olympic athletes over the age of 70.
Outside of his many tennis pursuits, Alvarez, a retired Navy serviceman, said he serves the USO by spending three hour shifts at the airport greeting returning and departing military.