BUCKHANNON – West Virginia Wesleyan College held a special ribbon-cutting ceremony for the new tennis complex located on Wood Street adjacent to the Culpepper Soccer Stadium.
Phase one of the new tennis complex includes six new courts with lighting on each court.
The $500,000 project was made possible by several generous gifts from alumni and friends. Three of the six courts have been named through leadership gifts by Jack '59 and Mary Sue Fraser '60, Don '70 and Debra Green '74, and Marc, Hon. 16 and Debora Halbritter.
President Pamela Balch '71, Vice President for Advancement Robert Skinner '75, Director of Athletics Randy Tenney '77, Vice President for Finance Barry Pritts, men's and women's head coach Marc Walters along with members of the Board of Trustees and players from the men's and women's tennis teams cut the ribbon signifying the opening of the tennis complex.
The women's team will be the first to play at the new complex as they were scheduled to host Concord following the ribbon-cutting ceremonies at 3 p.m.
Walters had this to say about the complex being ready for its first match, "It is an amazing feeling seeing the complex being used by 20-plus kids at a time or both teams practicing at the same time. It has felt a little bit like Christmas morning around here the last few days to be honest."
Walters said that despite his team being road warriors the last three years, his student-athletes have been patient during the process of the complex being built.
"The kids have been great about the entire process, and the wait was worth it to see the spring in their steps and the smiles on their faces," Walters stated. "These kids will truly appreciate the new complex, even the freshman since they have spent the majority of their fall season practicing on the old courts."
Even though the courts are now finished, work will still continue on the complex, according to Walters.
"We still have to get the concrete walkway finished surrounding the courts, the lights, windscreens, and the storage building, as well as the bleacher areas," Walters remarked. "The long-term plan is to renovate the house adjacent to the courts into a tennis office, player lounge, and study-support building, which will take some more fundraising but hopefully could be done in the short term."
Walters noted that the tennis courts will not only benefit Wesleyan but the entire Upshur County community.
"Community tennis is going to benefit in so many ways, having a lighted facility of this caliber," he stated. "We already have begun new junior clinics and lessons going on in anticipation of this complex. It is going to be a brand-new world as far as tennis goes in Buckhannon and the surrounding areas."
Wesleyan's men's and women's tennis teams have been without a suitable playable outdoor home facility since 2013.
Despite the adversity, the men's team won the 2016 Mountain East Conference regular-season championship and earned a 10th consecutive berth into the NCAA Division II Regional Tournament. They finished the year with a 19-6 record.
President Balch added, "This is a lovely facility. This is a great day for Wesleyan and the local community."
Naming rights still exists for two of the courts, and the Wesleyan Office of Advancement is still seeking gift support for windscreens and additional seating.
For more information about the project, contact the Wesleyan Office of Advancement at 304-473-8485.