Expanded Leftwich Tennis Center will be a tennis hub for the community
Community Foundation donors part of planning and fundraising leadership
(Aug. 12, 2019) A bold vision to create a first-rate regional tennis center is close to becoming reality, with less than $1 million left to raise towards a $19 million goal. Expansion and renovation of Leftwich Tennis Center in Audubon Park will result in a facility that serves Memphis’s growing tennis community, as well as out-of-town players and fans drawn to tournaments here.
The plan is a collaborative effort of the City of Memphis, the University of Memphis, and Tennis Memphis. Several members of the project’s volunteer leadership have ties to the Community Foundation, including donors Brian Bendersky, Allen Morgan, Worth Morgan, Chuck Smith, Paulo Teixeira, and Investment Committee member John Pettey.
The new, state-of-the art facility, with 20 outdoor and 12 indoor courts, will serve thousands, including players affected by the recent shuttering of the Racquet Club and Germantown Country Club. In addition to being home court for the University of Memphis and several high schools, it will be a hub for league players (Memphis boasts the state’s highest number of USTA leagues) and those new to the sport.
The nonprofit Tennis Memphis, which operates and manages the City’s public tennis facilities, is committed to youth development through tennis. It offers low-cost and free programs including Tennis and Tutoring, clinics, lessons, and summer camps—and makes a deliberate effort to reach youth aged 4-18 who are under-resourced and considered at-risk. A flagship facility like Leftwich, according to Tennis Memphis executive director Stephen Lang, “takes tennis to whole new level and brings youth to the game.”
Memphis Mayor Jim Strickland says, “With this new facility, we’ll be able to offer anyone who would like to learn or play tennis the chance to do so.”
The new Leftwich will also be a tourism draw, with the capacity to host national tennis tournaments and NCAA and conference championships. USTA, tennis’s national governing body, is consulting with project leadership to ensure the facility’s design is ideal for tournament, college, recreational, and competitive matches.
“What it can do for tourism, bringing tournaments or events to the city that have gone to Chattanooga or Murfreesboro in the past, is terrific,” says Allen Morgan. “We will be getting some interesting tennis tournaments here for the city and the fans.”
The outdoor courts are slated to be complete in fall 2020, and the indoor courts in spring 2021.
“These kinds of facilities don’t come along very often. To have something like this is very, very special,” says Stephen Lang. “The way it’s being done is catering to all the needs of the community. It couldn’t happen without the right people leading the charge. Everything has come together, and everyone stepped up at the right time.”
A donor will match, dollar-for-dollar, all contributions to the Leftwich expansion project from Community Foundation donors and friends (up to $50,000) between now and Saturday, August 31. Double your impact on the future of tennis in Memphis by making a gift to the Better Memphis Fund, managed by the Community Foundation.