Winston-Salem, N.C.—Wake Forest Athletics began work this month on phase two of the expansive Wake Forest Tennis Complex initiative. Phase two, the Southern Family Court Seating at the Leighton Team Courts, involves the construction of 718 permanent, chair-back seats around all six collegiate courts/Winston-Salem Open practice courts. An impressive $1.75 million was raised including a significant gift from Winston-Salem natives Harold, Mildred, Hal and Debbie Southern.
The new seating is a big step forward for the Winston-Salem Open, an ATP World Tour 250 event and the last men’s tournament on the Emirates Airline US Open Series prior to the US Open.
“The addition of the Southern Family Court Seating will allow intimate access to watch quality tennis during the Winston-Salem Open and Wake Forest collegiate matches,” said Debbie Southern. “Permanent seating gives a venue more appeal and prestige for the players competing as well as the spectators watching.”
Don Flow, chairman of the Board of Directors for the Winston-Salem Open, spoke to his vision for the tournament and the impact of this new seating saying, “Our goal is to create an outstanding experience for the fans of the Winston-Salem Open and to create the number one ranked collegiate tennis center in the United States. The completion of the Southern Family Court Seating will take us well down this road for Wake Forest tennis and continues our efforts to develop a distinctive venue for the Winston-Salem Open.”
The Wake Forest tennis program, fresh off the men’s tennis ACC Championship win on April 24, will also greatly benefit from the new seating.
“We are very excited about the addition of the Southern Family Court Seating,” said men’s tennis head coach Tony Bresky. “This is another great addition to what is already one of the best college tennis facilities in the nation.”
The Wake Forest Tennis Complex has indeed been ranked one of the best in the country—in October of 2015 Tennis.com ranked the facility #3 in the country, only behind SMU Tennis Complex at Southern Methodist University (#2) and Hurd Tennis Center at Baylor (#1).
Women’s tennis head coach Jeff Wyshner discussed the impact of the improved fan experience on the team, saying “Fans will be able to watch multiple courts from above and behind the courts and it will really help the team to have fans surrounding the courts.”
In addition to having a significant impact on the Wake Forest tennis program and the Winston-Salem Open, improvements to the Wake Forest Tennis Complex also positively impact the city of Winston-Salem.
“Improvements like the Southern Family Court Seating allow us to host other events in addition to the Winston-Salem Open like the NCAA Championships in 2018 and state-wide tournaments,” said Bill Oakes, Winston-Salem Open Tournament Director. “Being able to bring events such as these to the city of Winston-Salem definitely brings economic impact to the community.”
Robert Knapp (’68), a Wake Forest tennis alum and generous donor to the project also spoke to the impact of tennis facility improvements not only on Winston-Salem but also across the state saying, “The community commitment to helping Wake Forest become a world-class tennis center is going to improve tennis not only at Wake Forest, but throughout North Carolina. Wake Forest and Winston-Salem will benefit tremendously from the visitors who will be so impressed by what the combined effort has created.”
Construction of the Southern Family Court Seating will be completed in August 2016, prior to the start of the Winston-Salem Open on August 20.