Playing tennis in the cold is no picnic.

Hard Ball 

Playing tennis in the cold is no picnic.

DAILY

In the wintertime, you just can't count on good weather for tennis. And it's a sport for which the weather matters. You need blood flowing to your fingertips if you hope to maneuver the wily construction that is the tennis racket. When asked whether gloves help, one local tennis instructor and former NCAA player told us that gloves are no use. "You can't play tennis in gloves," he said. "Playing tennis in the cold sucks." Even brutal winters are dotted with sunny days, though -- ones that sweep the clouds away. And on those days, you want to go where the air is clean. We don't mean Sesame Street; we mean outdoor courts.

Many outdoor courts take down their nets for the season, which annoys people who want to take advantage of those occasional tennis-friendly days. On the lone sunny day in January, what will the Plaza courts do for you? Nothing. There is no game without a net.

City-dwelling Richie Tenenbaums might instead try the courts at Sheila Kemper Dietrich Park (26th Street and Gillham), which are clean and in decent shape; the newly resurfaced and well-lighted Parade Park courts (Truman Road and Paseo); or the tried-and-trusted Loose Park courts (53rd Street and Summit), south of the rose garden.

Go on a cold day, and you won't even have to wait in line.-- Gina Kaufmann

Grow Your Own
Sustainable agriculture tastes better.

1/8-1/9

Did your food get sprayed with DDT, or was it grown with TLC?

This important question reminds us of the ancient Chinese proverb "Always know your dealer." Sure, you might trust some faceless megacorporation to create new medicine and technology, but do you really want it growing your carrots and tomatoes?

Register for the Great Plains Vegetable Growers Conference and learn to do it yourself. The two-day conference covers everything from organic farming to garlic growing in Missouri, from planting your seed to marketing the finished produce. The only drawback is that you'll have to use some gas getting to the St. Joseph Ramada Inn, 4016 Frederick Avenue. Admission prices range from $35 to $50. For more information or to register, call 816-279-6192.-- Michael Vennard

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