During the recent Rolex Hall of Fame Enshrinement Weekend, the International Tennis Hall of Fame finalized the work of the recent Match Point Capital Campaign by officially dedicating six new hard courts on the property. Through the support of generous donors, four of the courts were named in honor of Hall of Famers Billie Jean King, Tony Trabert, Jack Kramer, and Mark McCormack. The remaining two courts were named for tennis tours of today and yesterday – one was jointly named by the Women’s Tennis Association (WTA) and the ATP World Tour and one was named in honor of World Championship Tennis (WCT), the trailblazing men’s pro tour of the 1970s that paved the way for today’s global pro tours.
“When my predecessor, Chris Clouser, and the members of the Match Point Capital Campaign Committee planned the expansion and renovation, a key goal was that celebrating tennis history be a prevalent theme in everything we did. As such, naming the courts in honor of those individuals and organizations who built our sport’s history was an important element. We are grateful to the donors who supported this vision and made it a reality. In particular, I would like to thank Hall of Famer and former ITHF Executive Board Member Butch Buchholz, who put his heart and soul into championing this initiative,” commented ITHF Chairman John Arnhold.
The courts are utilized for junior and adult programming at the International Tennis Hall of Fame. The new hard courts doubled the size of the Hall of Fame’s court availability. Previously, the facility had three indoor hard courts. Through the campaign, there are now three new indoor hard courts, as well as three outdoor hard courts, which have a seasonal bubble, enabling year-round use of six courts.
“The new courts and facility have been very well received by local tennis players and guests. The court space offers us a new opportunity to significantly expand our tennis programming. Looking to the future, we are working to bring more tennis to the campus- be it youth programming, industry conventions, recreational play opportunities, or competitive tournaments,” commented ITHF CEO Todd Martin. “Our goal each day at the International Tennis Hall of Fame is to inspire today’s players and fans through our sport’s empowering history. To hear kids in a junior program run out to the courts saying they are playing on the Billie Jean King Court or the Tony Trabert Court is a great thing.”
The courts were officially dedicated in a special ceremony for the donors and for those for whom the courts were being named during the recent Rolex Hall of Fame Enshrinement Weekend, a multi-day event in which the International Tennis Hall of Fame Class of 2016 was officially inducted. In addition, the court dedication was celebrated with special acknowledgement by Hall of Fame President Stan Smith during the Induction Ceremony.
In addition to the courts, over the weekend, the Hall of Fame also celebrated the dedication of a new grandstand on Bill Talbert Center Court. The Tom and Mary James South Grandstand replaced an outdated facility and offers fans an improved experience overall. Additionally, box seats on the stadium’s East Side were also completely renovated, made possibly by a donation from Lady Marion Weatherstone. Both Tom James and Lady Marion Weatherstone have been longtime supporters of the International Tennis Hall of Fame, serving many years on the Board of Governors and on numerous committees.
The Tony Trabert Court is named in honor of former Hall of Fame President and Class of 1970 Hall of Famer, Tony Trabert. One of the U.S.’s great early champions, Trabert was a world No. 1 player, a ten-time major champion, Davis Cup great, and an outstanding ambassador for the sport. Donations in Trabert’s honor were gathered from many longtime friends: C. Francis Barrett, Ann J. and Alvin W. Bunis, Robert L. Bunnen, Jr., Leigh and Doug Conant, Angela Farley Wilson and Andrea Farley, Jim and Bobbie Farley, Roberta and Melvin Fisher, Richard E. Friedman, Barbara and Peter Georgescu, Kathy Graeter, Bill Lofgren, Irvin and Shirley Scharfenberger, Susan and Jack Schmidt, Rosalind P. Walter, Western & Southern Financial Fund, and Cincinnati Tennis Hall of Fame. Trabert resides in Florida, and his granddaughter, Brittany Trabert, took part in the court dedication on his behalf.
The Jack Kramer Courthonors a man who was both a great champion and a remarkable leader on the administration and promotion side of our the sport. Kramer was a singles and doubles champion at the US Open and Wimbledon, winning 10 major titles overall. After his playing career, Kramer was a determined advocate for launching the Open Era of tennis and went on to be a co-founder of the ATP World Tour. He was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1968. Donations for the court in Kramer’s honor were made by Butch Buchholz, Donald Dell, The Gimelstob Family, and Charlie Pasarell. Kramer passed away in 2009, and several of his family members traveled to Newport to be part of the dedication. Those attending were Jack’s sons Bob and David, along with his grandchildren – Bob’s son, Jack and David’s daughter, Joanna.
The Mark H. McCormack Court is named for one of sport’s most brilliant business minds. McCormack was the founder of the sports management agency IMG, which has been influential in building the careers of many tennis players and tournaments in the sport. He was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 2008. The court was named in McCormack’s honor as a joint effort between his widow Betsy Nagelsen-McCormack and longtime Hall of Fame supporters Peggy and Ed Woolard. Nagelsen-McCormack took part in the dedication festivities in Newport.
The Billie Jean King Courthonors a Hall of Famer who is not only one of the greatest legends of tennis, but also one of the most influential leaders of our time. King won an incredible 39 major tournament titles during her playing career. She was the founder of the WTA, setting out with the goal to grow playing opportunities for women, and today she remains an active and respected voice for equality among all. Additionally, King is a co-founder of World TeamTennis and founder of the Women’s Sports Foundation. Funding for this court was generously provided by the Robert K. Kraft Family of Massachusetts.
The final two courts are named for professional tennis tours of today and a tour that propelled the pro game forward.
The World Championship Tennis Court celebrates Lamar Hunt and Al Hill, Jr.’s trailblazing pro tennis tour, which got its start in the late 1960s and paved the way for the Open Era of tennis and the exciting global professional tours we know and love today. Hall of Famers including Rod Laver, Ken Rosewall, and John Newcombe found great opportunity on the WCT, and the tour engaged countless fans into the game, making pro tennis part of the global sports culture. The court was named by Al G. Hill, Jr., Lamar Hunt’s nephew. Bob Moore, who worked closely with Lamar Hunt for many years and is a longtime friend of the Hunt and Hill families, took part in the court dedication.
The final court at the International Tennis Hall of Fame has been named for the two professional tennis tours on which tennis history continues to be made each day all around the world. The final court is dedicated to theWomen’s Tennis Association and the ATP World Tour. Funding for the court was jointly contributed by the two professional tours, so as to pay tribute to the tours at the place where tennis history is celebrated daily. WTA CEO Steve Simon, and Mark Young, Vice Chairman and Chief Legal & Media Officer of the ATP, took part in the court dedications.