Tennis eyes 2014 update of facilities

Johns Hopkins has launched a capital campaign to support the men's and women's tennis programs. The initiative is the largest fundraising campaign in the history of Blue Jays tennis and will significantly impact the facilities currently used by the two successful teams.

Image caption: A new Johns Hopkins tennis facility, shown here in an artist's rendering, would include resurfaced playing courts, a new lighting system for night matches, and spectator seating.

Tom Calder, director of athletics, and Chuck Willenborg, director of the tennis program, are working closely with Blue Jays Unlimited, the official fundraising arm of Johns Hopkins athletics, to secure financial commitments.

The proposed $1.5 million campaign is geared exclusively to Homewood's current playing facility, which sits along North Charles Street near the intersection of University Parkway. The area, used by both teams, will undergo a major facelift later this year to include the complete resurfacing of all six playing courts, spectator seating along the Charles Street side, a state-of-the-art lighting system for night matches, and a plaza with restrooms, concessions, and storage areas.

Other features to be included are new nets, fencing, a retaining wall, and a permanent net between the tennis courts and baseball field to block foul balls.

If all funding is secured, construction and renovations could begin this fall, and the facility would be ready before the start of the 2014 season. In addition to improving the game day experience, the facility will provide opportunities for camps and recreational use.

Since arriving in 2005, Willenborg has developed Johns Hopkins into a premier tennis program. The men's team has won seven straight Centennial Conference titles and made eight straight trips to the NCAA Tournament under his guidance. The women's team has won seven consecutive Centennial titles with trips to the NCAA Tournament in each of those years.

"The tennis programs here have established themselves as among the best in the country. A new tennis complex would allow for the tennis teams to maintain and build on the traditions that have been established," says Willenborg, who is also head coach of the men's team. "Hosting conference and national championships on a new tennis complex would bring attention to all the great things our student-athletes and university are accomplishing."