Match point

City officials have partnered with OKC Public Tennis LLC in a quest to create a year-round tennis program complete with indoor courts and five additional youth courts. The agreement was approved at the Oct. 22 Oklahoma City Council meeting. At the same meeting, ADG/PDG was selected as the project architect.

“This is a very popular attraction, and this project will give it the capacity to hold larger events and enhance the facility, which are two of the main goals,” Public Works Director Eric Wenger says.

City officials committed to pay $1.4 million while OKC Public Tennis will raise the remaining $1.4 million. So far, private fundraising efforts have netted about half of the company’s share, according to spokesman Brad Lund.

“We have dozens of prospects that we’re waiting to hear from, so we’re highly confident we’ll get there and highly confident in this project and what it will bring to the public tennis players in Oklahoma City,” Lund says. “That (council approval) was a big day for us.”

The design and budget process should take three to nine months before the first shovel of dirt is turned. Construction is expected to take eight to 10 months with a projected opening in late 2014 or early 2015, Lund says.

Priorities

OKC Public Tennis began work on the new capital improvement plan with the intent of developing a strong inner-city youth program that could last year-round, even during Oklahoma’s brutally cold winters.

“It was breaking our hearts for talented youngsters to train April through September and then come back after the winter months and their games could not catch up with the competition,” Lund says.

Construction plans will incorporate a six-court indoor pavilion, a five-court 10-and-under facility, outdoor court cabanas, improvements to the outdoor stadium court and enhanced landscaping on the eastern portion of the complex.

The indoor facility is expected to include a pro shop, snack shop, locker rooms, a viewing room and a climatecontrolled lounge.

Bolstering the skills of adult public park players was another major priority when plans were made.

“It
will impact thousands of residents and is well overdue,” Lund says.
“There are hundreds of players, adults and kids, who play seasonally
because of the economics of tennis.”

Meeting needs

In
conjunction with the construction project, Lund and OKC Tennis Center
Executive Director Mark Allen are working to develop a First Serve
chapter.

Much like
golf’s First Tee program, First Serve is an initiative to help
underserved youth gain leadership skills, educational opportunities and
physical fitness through participation in tennis. First Serve
programming will include day camps, private instruction, drill groups,
tournament play and mentoring from program coordinators. Any child
eligible for free and reduced lunches in the public school system can
participate.

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