tennis.jpgFORT LAUDERDALE – The 98-year-old American Tennis Association (ATA) capped a 20-year search for a permanent home Aug.1, unveiling plans for a $6 million training center and complex to be constructed on Sistrunk Boulevard, the historic black corridor of Fort Lauderdale.

The ATA unveiled artist’s renderings of the complex during a reception at the Greater Fort Lauderdale/Broward County Convention Center, part of its activities during its 96th annual National Tennis Championships played in the city.

ATA President Franklyn Scott said no other location was considered as the site for the complex.

“This area has always been the most receptive,” said Scott, an oral surgeon from Philadelphia. “The South Florida community embodies what we are all about.”

Albert Tucker, vice president of multicultural business development for the Greater Fort Lauderdale Convention and Visitors Bureau, welcomed the decision.

“I had the incredible opportunity to bring the vision together,” Tucker said. “It’s a beautiful rendering for a beautiful facility.”

Bob Blatcher, a tennis coach from Wilmington, Del. and a 50-year ATA member, said the complex – due to be open in 2014 – will help black junior tennis players compete with other athletes who have year-round training.

“Juniors will learn to be top-notch players,” Blatcher said. “Our kids need high-performance training and coaching.”

The complex will be available to ATA members and the public.

“This is going to be pretty outstanding, not just for the ATA but for the sport of tennis, not just for African Americans but for the sport of tennis,” said D.A. Abrams, chief diversity and inclusion officer for the
United States Tennis Association (USTA).

Government officials in attendance at the unveiling included Broward County Commissioner Dale Holness and Fort Lauderdale City Commissioner Bobby Dubose.

“I am looking forward for the facility to be located in District 9 to create more jobs,” Holness said.

The  new state-of-the-art complex will have office space, an area for exhibits, one center court with stands on each sideline and a set of six courts on each side of center court.

Terrell Washington, project architect for The Hall Group in Miami, said that the renderings were a collaborative effort between the ATA and the USTA.

Tennis star Venus Williams and her designing firm, V*Starr Interiors, will work with the USTA to design the interior of the tennis complex.

*UNVEILING THE PLAN: Franklyn Scott, president of the American Tennis Association, speaks at the unveiling of the renderings of a tennis complex proposed for the Sistrunk Corridor during a reception at the Broward County Convention Center on Aug. 1. MALCOLM SHIELDS/ FOR THE SOUTH FLORIDA TIMES.