WALLA WALLA — A ceremony Monday afternoon celebrated the opening of Whitman College’s new tennis courts, located in the center of campus.
The renovated facility now houses six outside courts, as opposed to the previous four.
The addition of the two outside courts will allow for all six singles matches in an intercollegiate competition to be played at the same time (previously two were played in the inside courts) and for more tennis classes to be offered to the student body.
Those who spoke at the ceremony included Whitman president George Bridges, Whitman associate athletic director Michelle Ferenz, Whitman’s men’s tennis coach Jeff Northam, and Missionary tennis player Atanas Atanasov.
Bridges thanked the key figures who made the project a reality, giving special thanks to Lois and Earl Dusenbery, who provided a large gift. And, in turn, they were presented two tennis balls signed by the men’s and women’s tennis teams at the ceremony.
The new configuration has four adjacent courts, with two directly south on the Boyer Avenue side of the facility. The courts now sport a new state-of-the-art surface with the Whitman College athletic logo on the sidelines, and a new drainage system that will help in the preservation of the courts’ surface.
Having six outdoor courts, also, makes Whitman eligible to host national events. The NCAA requires that a school has six outdoor courts for hosting a regional or national tournament. The Whitman men’s team has qualified for the NCAA tournament the last seven years and the women the last two. Both teams have had to travel for the regional round every year.
“The coaches and players cannot express enough how ecstatic they are about the new facility,” Northam said. “The new configuration will make the matches significantly more interesting. Gone are the days when the No. 5 and 6 singles matches begin with the match already decided.”
The renovation commenced immediately after the scholastic year was over and took approximately four months to complete — just in time for Whitman to host the USTA/ITA Regional Championships this Friday through Monday.
The tournament is comprised of a singles draw of 64 players and a doubles field of 32.