New public tennis facility underway in Kirkland
By CARRIE RODRIGUEZ
Kirkland Reporter Editor
December 30, 2011 · Updated 12:46 PM
After years of struggling to find space to offer youth tennis programs, Tennis Outreach Programs (TOPs) will soon have a home of its own.
The Redmond-based nonprofit, which offers low-cost tennis classes to under-served and at-risk Eastside youth, secured $1 million in funding to renovate a 58,000-square-foot facility in Kirkland. Construction is underway on the vacant warehouse in Kirkland’s Totem Lake neighborhood and is set for completion by the end of January.
The new public Outreach & Performance Tennis Center (OPTC) will include six full-sized indoor tennis courts, with six additional 36-foot courts designed to give kids 8 and under a less intimidating introduction to the game. The facility is located at 10822 117th Place N.E. just off of I-405 in Kirkland.
Marceil Whitney, who founded TOPS in 2003, is a tennis educator who has taught and coached tennis for over 36 years. She said the Eastside is currently under-served in public indoor tennis courts. There are only 16 public indoor tennis courts in King County, only one of which is located on the Eastside in Bellevue.
“Marceil’s programs have operated for many years in local community centers and public courts on a smaller scale and now finally we have a home for those programs so we can serve so many more kids,” said Travis Roach, executive director of OPTC. “And having six dedicated courts that we don’t have to go rent from the city, or if we’re forced not to have a program because a community center closes, is huge.”
Roach said the new facility will provide tennis opportunities for all ages and all skill levels.
“We want it to be a complete public tennis center, so we want it to be a place where everyone can come and learn,” said Roach. “Whether it’s a 3 or 4 year old who touches a racket for the first time or a high school player who’s been playing since they were 3 or 4, we want to offer something for everyone.”
The facility will provide much-needed affordable public indoor courts for adult and junior play.
For kids, the program aims to serve 150-200 kids per day, providing youth with a safe and productive place to play tennis. The facility will offer dedicated court time to youth, as wells as various programs before and after school.
In addition to tennis, youth tutoring services and fitness programs will be given.
“We’ve seen from the kids in our community center programs ... that just having a positive thing to look forward to each day, whether it’s a before- or after-school program, (helps with their education)” added Roach, who volunteered with TOPS for many years and most recently served as general manager of the Mercer Island Beach Club where participation in the tennis programs doubled during his tenure.
The new nonprofit facility will offer scholarships to provide youth in need with rackets, shoes and training equipment.
He said the programs will also focus on fun.
“Some perceptions about tennis have been where you see an instructor feeding balls to kids standing in lines and that’s not the way tennis is anymore, especially the way we’re teaching it,” said Roach. “It’s very active, keeping the kids moving and engaged.”
Roach, a former tennis coach who started playing tennis himself just before high school, said he looks forward to expanding TOPs programs at the new facility.
“Just getting to see the growth of kids through the tennis experience has always been something that I’ve enjoyed,” said Roach, adding, “The number of opportunities that tennis has provided to me, I’m excited to share that with others.”
For more information, visit www.topskirkland.org or www.tennisoutreach.org; or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Contact Kirkland Reporter Editor Carrie Rodriguez at email@example.com or 1-425-822-9166 (ext 5050).