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History of the Program

Written by Barbara Wynne:

Look what I found while doing a little spring cleaning while practicing social distancing! This was originally written in the early 2000s while preparing for a renovation to the original Tennis House. (The completed renovation in the above picture.) Look how far we have come as we are now fundraising to build a year-round indoor and outdoor facility and program! Looking forward to making new memories and adventures this summer.

The Washington Township Schools Community Tennis Program was in its infancy back in 1964 when Barbara Wynne moved to her home in Williams Creek and resurfaced the old court in her backyard. The 1926 court had a history of tennis already, with rumors of Helen Wills Moody and William F. Tilden having played exhibition matches on the court.

The court quickly responded to the requests of the neighbors, and by 1965 a core of 24 children were practicing what they were learning in semi-private lessons in the Wynne’s backyard and during the two-hour supervised sessions on the old courts at North Central High School. Word of mouth spread the popularity of the program, and by 1966 over 100 girls and boys were actively playing as part of the Northside Tennis Program. The Jordan Family YMCA became the headquarters for registration and the program flourished.

By 1967 the participation had doubled again and so had the cracks in the old tennis courts. Washington Township Schools’ Superintendent, J. Everett Light, was very supportive of the tennis program and liked the idea of promoting lifetime sports. In 1968 the school board voted to build 27 new courts south of North Central High School. Twenty-one of the new courts were finished in time for the 1970 summer season. The Needham Hurst family donated a trailer that became the center for all activity of the tennis program for almost a decade.

In 1970 the Northside Tennis Program became a formal part of he school system. The program was named the Washington Township Schools Community Tennis Program and a mission was adopted: “The Tennis Program is designed to teach tennis as a lifetime sport to be enjoyed for recreational pleasure and to offer opportunities to those who wish to excel as competitive players.” In 1971 Billie Jean King did a free exhibition, and in 1973 the first fundraiser was sponsored with Pancho Gonzales to raise funds for windscreens. The 1970’s were years with tournaments like the Western Closed Junior Championships and the CITA Qualifications. These were played at the North Central Tennis Center and boasted draws of 488 and more. The need to have a “Tennis House” with bathrooms and a community room became a goal for all participants and families involved in the program. Scores of projects followed and the financial efforts to raise $300,000 to build the Tennis House continued and in December 1979 the doors of the Tennis House were opened.

In 2001 the program celebrates 37 years of service to tennis and tennis players in the state of Indiana. Over 40,000 people have benefited from the facility and its dedicated staff. The program continues to grow and has expanded its efforts in offering scholarships and raising money to help other community organizations such as Riley Hospital and Indiana Cares. Washington Township Schools Community Tennis Program remains true to its mission statement and is an asset to the Indianapolis community.

The renovation and expansion of the Washington Township Tennis Center [completed in 2004] is necessary in order to meet the needs of the Indiana tennis community. Over 1,500 children and adults annually participate in the program and use the facility The program draws children from seventy schools around the state of Indiana. The proposed building updates the instructional area. The new instructional area has state-of-the-art equipment to facilitate learning and improvement. The goal is to meet the present needs, and with the proposed improvements, encourage more access by the Indianapolis community.

The following is a detailed description of the renovation and expansion plan: The new Washington Township Tennis Center, which is to be located at the existing North Central Tennis Complex, will be a 12,300 square foot facility when complete. The design is set up so that the 3,900 square foot, two-story existing building remains, but the existing public restroom and concession building will be demolished to make room for the new construction.

The new construction wraps the existing two-story building and consists of a 3,000 square foot “group instruction/seating room”, new entry spine to the tennis courts from the parking lot, commons area for the Hall of Fame, new locker rooms, new coaches’ offices, new concession stand, new exterior public restrooms, and an office for the Indianapolis Junior Tennis Foundation. The existing building will be renovated to consist of the business offices, officials’ area, first aid room, workroom, kitchenette, and remodeled public restrooms.

The “groups instruction/seating room” will be oriented with a view toward the lower courts and set up with telescoping stadium seating. The room is designed for flexibility of use, which includes viewing of matches, lectures, demonstrations, presentations, and can be set up with banquet seating when the stadium seating is pulled away. Support for the “group instruction/seating room” includes a new kitchenette, storage, conference room and audio-visual technology to support the flexibility of the room’s presentational opportunities.

The entry spine/Hall of Fame has been set up to be one and a half story space with window walls and display space lining the perimeter. This space is the community’s interior path to the tennis courts and “group instruction/seating room” and will be decorated with achievements and history of the tennis community. The space also includes the daily check-in reception area and office for the Indianapolis Junior Tennis Development Foundation.

Off of the new entry spine will be the new girls’ and boys’ locker rooms, equipped with restrooms, open lockers, and marker boards. The coaches’ offices are directly across the hall in the new women’s and men’s offices with joint public restrooms and a new public concession area with storage. The restrooms and concessions will open up to the existing shelter area, which is to remain.

In the existing building, minor reconfiguration will place all of the business offices in one location on the first floor with a new expansion in the business office area underneath the existing balcony to help the view for monitoring all of the courts. The remodeled and expanded public restroom and kitchenette will open to both the office area and entry spine. The second floor will remain the holding and press area with the addition of a meet director office and a new guardrail around the existing balcony perimeter.

The renovation and expansion project has been estimated at a total construction cost of $1,300,000 with new construction complete in the fall of 2003 and renovation of the existing building complete in the spring of 2004.