$18 Million Dollar Renovation Of State Of The Art Facility Set To Continue High-Level Tennis And Education Programs
When the $18 million renovation of the Southeast Tennis and Learning Center (SETLC) is completed, the 48,000 square foot six-tennis court indoor arena in Washington, DC’s Ward 8 will be given a world-class name to match a world-class facility. The Venus and Serena Williams Tennis Arena will be officially unveiled on Friday, November 7 at the SETLC’s Tennis Shoes, Ties & After Five Gala hosted by the Recreation Wish List Committee (RWLC). The famed tennis sisters will be in attendance for the entire evening of fun, fundraising and renovation celebration, which will be emceed by James “JB” Brown, network broadcaster of CBS News and Sports.
“The support of Venus and Serena is something that has been a driving force behind the success of the Center from day one,” said Cora Masters Barry, president and founder of the RWLC. “We are privileged to be able to honor them with the naming of the new tennis arena and thrilled that they will be in attendance on November 7 for the unveiling and entire gala.”
The SETLC is the first facility of it’s kind in the nation and has become a model for other cities. The center and others inspired by it will be integral in the development of U.S. tennis.
With the new tennis facility comes new opportunities for the Center and those who frequent its halls, as well as an opportunity for new tennis players to call the SETLC home. The George Washington University has committed to hosting all of its men’s and women’s home Atlantic 10 conference tennis matches at the Center.
Additionally, the United States Tennis Association (USTA) is in discussions to host Regional and National Tournaments as well USTA coaches’ training there. Currently, the SETLC is a National Junior Tennis Learning Chapter and with the upgraded facility, is on its way to becoming a Regional Training Center.
“This is truly going to be one of the premier tennis facilities on the East Coast, if not a model for the entire country,” said Damiisa Robinson, Director of Tennis at the SETLC. “With this newly renovated center, we will be opening up our customer scope. We will have the greatest quality of services as our competition in the Mid-Atlantic region with lower cost for lessons and programs we will never turn away a Ward 8 student, that’s why this center was built and we will stay true that mission.”
The state of the art renovation of the Center will undoubtedly expound upon the great work that has gone on for nearly a decade and a half. Since the opening of the Center in 2001, the halls of the SETLC have served over 10,000 youth and sent over 30 students (also known as Tennis Scholars) to college who may not have otherwise attended.
Tennis scholars who learned to play in the Center’s “Tiny Tots” program such as Sarah and Olivia Means who are seniors at Florida Gulf Coast University on full tennis scholarships and were the 2013 National Doubles Champions. Their older sisters Rachael and Elizabeth, both of whole received full education scholarships to Davidson College and University of South Florida respectively.
Other members who started in “Tiny Tots” include Tierra Holloway, who earned both academic and tennis scholarships to Tougaloo College, Chris Brown, who earned a tennis scholarship to the University of Maryland Eastern Shore and Sophia Dedeaux, who earned academic scholarships to George Mason University.
Taylor “Woodie” McKnight is one of the top junior tennis players in the Mid-Atlantic region. He recently represented the SETLC as part of Arthur Ashe Kids Day and performed in a competition against Roger Federer, Andy Roddick, Serena Williams and Kim Clijsters – defeating Roddick.
“The facility is going to be gorgeous, but it is just a building if we don’t do something great inside of it,” continued Barry. “I can’t wait to see kids of all ages pick up rackets and play on these new courts. That will be worth every brick and every penny.”