University of the Ozarks held a ground-breaking ceremony on Friday for a new on-campus tennis facility.
A large group of U of O students, faculty, staff, alumni and board members attended the ceremony on the north end of campus that marked the start of construction on the outdoor facility. The center will feature eight state-of-the-art lighted courts, championship court spectator seating and a contemporary tennis clubhouse and hosting venue.
The facility was made possible by a gift from Dr. Judy P. Boreham of Fort Smith, Ark., the chair of the University’s Board of Trustees and a former provost at the University.
University President Richard L. Dunsworth said of the gift, "Tennis has been a key component of Ozarks’ recreational and varsity athletics programming for generations. The opportunity Dr. Boreham has given the University to replace our aging tennis facilities with top-flight courts and amenities is a special gift that will benefit our students and tennis fans from throughout the region for generations to come."
Dr. Boreham, a lifelong tennis player, said she admires the University’s student-athletes.
"As an NCAA Division III university, Ozarks’ athletes aren’t receiving athletic scholarships; they truly play for the love of the game," Dr. Boreham said. "It is my hope that our varsity athletes as well as all the students and members of the community will enjoy this facility for many years."
Construction on the facility will begin this month and is expected to be completed by the first of March, in time for the start of the collegiate tennis spring season.
The courts will feature video streaming capabilities and teaching technology designed to enhance the player, coach, and spectator experience. The first floor of the complex will include locker rooms as well as spectator restrooms and facilities for concessions and storage. The second floor features an open space designed for hosting events and allows full view of the entire complex and competition play.
U of O Athletics Director Jimmy Clark said the center will be one of the top tennis facilities in the region.
"It’s a tremendous addition to our athletic program and will provide our student-athletes a first-class facility in which to practice and to compete," Clark said. "It’s also a tremendous boon for Clarksville and for Johnson County. We’ll be able to attract and host things such as pro-am events, high school state tournaments, summer professional circuits and youth and adult regional tournaments. This type of facility will also benefit our local businesses, restaurants and hotels."
Clark said an all-time high of 287 students are competing in intercollegiate athletics at Ozarks this semester.
"This type of facility is transformational for the athletic program and it’s just the beginning of many good things to come," Clark said. "We’re seeing increasingly that incoming students want the opportunity to compete in collegiate athletics and we’re committed to making our student-athlete experience the best that it can be. This facility is another step in that direction."
The tennis center is being designed by Derck and Edson Associates of Pennsylvania and the contractor will be East Harding Construction of Little Rock.