Courts almost set for tourney

Megan Kadrmas

Beginning Thursday the University will host the Men’s Big Ten Championship tennis tournament for the first time since 1994. Final preparations are being made to the four-court expansion project that will allow the University to host the tournament.

Workers are finishing the top surface of the new courts, said Scott Ellison, associate athletics director for facilities and management.

Other final preparations include painting the lines on the new courts and putting up nets, said project manager Roger Wegner.

The expansion is part of a project started in 1999 that included the contruction of Ridder Arena and Baseline Tennis Center. The expansion was the last part of the project to be completed.

The expansion wasn’t completed until now, said Ellison, because the University had to purchase the property and demolish an existing building before starting the project.

The acquisition of the property and demolition of the existing building presented the biggest challenges to the project, Wegner said.

“The biggest challenges were in getting the (McLaughlin Gormley King) building down because of the contaminants in the soil. It was an old pesticide manufacturing plant and that took a lot of dealing with the (Minnesota Pollution Control Agency) to get approval of where to dispose of it and how to dispose of it,” he said.

The expansion was paid for with a $250,000 donation by the Baseline Tennis Club, Ellison said.

The Big Ten requires a minimum of 10 outdoor courts to host the tournament, said women’s tennis coach Tyler Thomson.

With the addition, Baseline has 12 outdoor courts and 10 indoor, year-round courts.

Although the University needed only two additional courts to play host to the Big Ten tournament, Wegner said four courts were added because they had space for it.

The extra courts will be used by more than just the varsity tennis teams, said Orlyn Miller, director of planning and architecture for Capital Planning and Management.

“They’re useful to the University for just general use when they aren’t being used by the teams or for events,” he said.

Having the tournament at home is a competitive advantage, Ellison said.

“When you stay at home, it is a slight competitive advantage for you because you

aren’t traveling, you’re not staying at hotels and you don’t have to fight with all the other logistical stuff you have to go through when you travel,” he said.

Another advantage of hosting the tournament is the local support student-athletes experience, Thomson said.

“It gives a lot of our parents and local fans a chance to see our student-athletes compete in that event,” he said.

The men’s team won the Big Ten tournament the last time the University hosted it, in 1994. Ellison said this reflects the advantages of hosting the tournament.

“It’s the advantage in staying home and having all of the comforts of staying home.”