One of tennis’ least-discussed success stories is the vast amount of money that has been poured into creating incredible college tennis facilities. Built in the middle some of the most beautiful and historic campuses, these facilities play host to competitive team matches and serve as the tennis nerve centers for thousands of student-athletes across the country.
We reached out to coaches, athletes, and others who have toured the college landscape in search of the 20 best facilities. Among variables that went into the decision-making process included: Dollars spent, date of completion, stadium seating, indoor to outdoor proximity, location, locker rooms, weight rooms, scoreboards and historical relevance.
Our list features facilities that are more than just tennis centers. Luxury suites and stadium seating are becoming the norm, along with team-friendly auxiliaries such as gyms, study areas, medical facilities and state-of the-art locker and team rooms.
Undoubtedly, you may disagree with how some facilities were rated. But rather than argue about where your alma mater placed, please call this a celebration of one of our sports’ greatest assets.
Sheridan Snyder Tennis Center
Virginia won the men’s team title this year, and then Ryan Shane won the individual men’s title. The team’s tennis facilities are tethered in amazing history, lots of donors and a solid relationship with Boyd Tinsley, violinist for the Dave Matthews Band.
Tinsley sponsors children’s lessons and programs, as well as the women’s ITF Pro Circuit $50,000 tournament. He also helped fund the Boars Head Sports Club expansion that has made Virginia’s indoor center one of the top facilities in the country. It contains 12 indoor courts, 1,200 viewing seats, state-of-the-art scoreboards, a locker room and a training room, and has hosted the women’s team indoor national championships for years. The outdoor venue, the Sheridan Snyder Tennis Center, was opened in 1997 and has 13 courts, seating for approximately 1,000, and a scoreboard. Adjacent is the Lady Astor Tennis Pavilion, which houses all the team rooms, locker rooms and conference rooms.
Billingsley Tennis Center
The George M. Billingsley Tennis Center is nothing short of a tennis masterpiece. The outdoor facility has two banks of five courts, which is a bit of an obstacle since six courts in a row is convention in college tennis. Still, the contiguity of the indoor and outdoor facilities is great—you can walk out of the second floor of Dills Indoor Stadium and into a seating area to watch the outdoor courts. The facility was completed in 2008 and shared no amenity expense; locker rooms, training rooms, team rooms are all housed within Dills.
The whole place is adorned with scoreboards and parking is incredibly convenient. It’s just a topnotch place for college tennis.
18. Texas Christian University (TCU)
Bayard H. Friedman Tennis Center
One name stands out: “David Roditi.” One of America’s most enthusiastic and talented coaches, Roditi has been at TCU since 2010 and used to run the USTA High Performance program in Carson, CA.
The Bayard H. Friedman Tennis Center and the Bartzen Varsity Courts play home to some of the most fan-friendly tennis matches, highlighted by an exciting atmosphere and a lot of cheering. The best seating is on the grass, as the six match courts are below ground level. It wouldn’t work very well if you didn’t have the spirit and chaos that the students and local residents bring to the matches.
Ambler Tennis Stadium
The Ambler Tennis Stadium was built in 1987 thanks to a gracious gift from Merrill Ambler. Since then, Duke has continued to add the necessary elements to keep it as one of the country’s greatest college tennis facilities. One of the biggest enhancements came in 2000, when the Sheffield Indoor Tennis Center was completed. Walking into Sheffield, you’ll see a veranda that is unlike any other thanks to a mixture of stone, brick, steel and glass.
Once inside, there are six courts, plus locker rooms, training rooms and coach’s offices. The gym is where the place really shines. It’s 3,300 square feet of Nautilus, Hydra-Gym and Universal stations, and over 6,000 pounds of free weights. Duke athletes also have access to the Michael W. Krzyzewski Center, which is loaded with study spaces, tutorial rooms and academic areas.
“I feel very lucky to have the opportunity to compete and practice at such incredible facilities here at Duke,” junior T.J. Pura says. “At Duke the excitement, the electric atmosphere…it’s just inescapable.”
16. University of Southern California (USC)
David X. Marks Tennis Stadium
Sandwiched between the Dedeaux Field baseball stadium, the Howard Jones Football Field, Vermont Avenue and Childs Way is a bit of a downtown Los Angeles tennis paradise. The crowds could increase dramatically after a summer makeover and incoming Los Angeles public transport. The venue also hosts an ITF Pro Circuit $15,000 men’s event and is home to the winningest men’s team in the history of college tennis (21 NCAA titles; five in the last seven years). World No. 33 Steve Johnson had a 72-match winning streak and won two NCAA singles titles playing for USC.
The facility includes 1,000 stadium seats, with six courts in one row and another four practice courts right around the corner. A billboard-sized scoreboard allows every seat ample viewing of all the match scores. Team rooms, locker rooms and offices are buried below the stadium.
15. University of Michigan
Varsity Tennis Center
When the names Tisch and Ford are involved in a project, you know it’s going to be top notch. The $6 million, 20-court facility that resides on 22 acres of land was completed in 1997 after Preston Robert Tisch, once a part owner of the Loews Corporation and 50 percent owner of the New York Giants, led the funding for the indoor facility. William Clay Ford, a former executive of Ford Motor Company and longtime owner of the Detroit Lions, did the same for the outdoor facility.
The Preston Robert Tisch Building has eight indoor courts with a capacity of just over 600. Each court has an electronic scoreboard as well as a video camera that streams matches through Michigan’s website. The indoor building has offices, meeting rooms, training and locker facilities, and a museum that showcases the history of Michigan tennis. The William Clay Ford Outdoor Tennis Center has 12 outdoor courts with stadium seating for 600 spectators. The courts are laid out in two sets of six, with seating behind the first three on each side.
Taube Tennis Center
Stanford’s tennis center that carries the Ted Taube name is breathtaking and rooted in tennis history. It was originally built in 1926, and the 17-court, 3,500-seat stadium facility has been used for just about everything. The WTA Bank of the West Tennis Classic has been played at Taube for 19 years. The facility also hosted the first-ever combined NCAA Championships, senior events, the 1999 Fed Cup, and all sorts of exhibitions.
The stadium surrounds three main courts, with another four lined up across a small bank. The rest of the courts are in the back for practice and recreational use. This past year, the men’s team picked up a new coach in Stanford alum and former ATP world No. 54, Paul Goldstein. The men’s and women’s teams have won 17 NCAA titles, each.
Yarbrough Tennis Center
Football may be king in the state of Alabama, but that didn’t stop Auburn University from building a $3.7 million dollar palace for its men’s and women’s tennis teams. The Yarbrough Tennis Center has 28 outdoor courts (12 hard and 16 clay) and six indoor courts set inside a 33,000 square foot center. There is enough space for over 1,000 spectators on the bank above the six main outdoor courts, and room for 300 more indoors.
The Yarbrough Tennis Center also has a pro shop on site. Opened in fall 2007, the facility was named the Professional Tennis Registry Public Facility of the Year in 2015. It has hosted the men’s and women’s SEC Tournament, junior tournaments and a ITF Pro Circuit $50,000 women’s tournament.
12. University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA)
UCLA Tennis Center
Built for the 1984 Olympic Games, the UCLA Tennis Center and Straus Clubhouse is one of the crown jewels of America’s tennis facilities. The eight-court facility is located near the heart of the UCLA campus and directly on the main student walkway. The tennis center was home to the Los Angeles ATP tournament for decades, and it still often serves as a practice facility for the best players in the world. Courts 7 and 8 are tucked in the back of the center and these hidden gems often serve as prime practice grounds for the top stars.
Courts 1, 2 and 3 are surrounded by a 5,800-seat stadium. The scoreboard on the side of Court 3 is as big as a billboard (named after Johnny Carson). While there is a stadium divide between the two rows of courts, it is always easy to know the score, and even easier to get a good seat. When balls are not flying on these storied courts, it is often where the university holds graduation ceremonies and concerts.
11. Georgia Tech
Ken Byers Tennis Complex
For years, many considered the best tennis facility in the state of Georgia to be an hour northeast of Georgia Tech, in Athens. But since Ken Byers, Georgia Tech alum and founder of Byers Engineering Company, put up a sizeable donation, things have shifted back towards downtown Atlanta.
The Ken Byers Tennis Complex was opened in 2013 at a cost of just over $10 million. The complex has 10 outdoor courts with bleacher seating for around 500. There is a large scoreboard at the far end to keep track of all the action. The indoor center has six courts with electronic scoreboards on each court and seating for roughly 250 fans, and the complex includes offices, locker rooms and a team lounge.
The facility has hosted the MLK Invitational for the last few years with several of the biggest college teams coming in to participate. It also helped host NCAA Championship matches in 2014 when rain forced play indoors from the University of Georgia.
Michael D. Case Tennis Center
Despite having one of the smallest enrollments in Division I with just below 3,500 undergraduates, the University of Tulsa has one of the largest tennis stadiums in the country. There’s a capacity for 2,000 fans surrounding the 12 outdoor and six indoor courts.
Michael D. Case, whose real estate company Case & Associates controls close to $2 billion in property, made this facility a reality and has helped grow tennis and the economy in Tulsa. The $10 million facility was completed in December 2001 and has hosted two NCAA Championships (in 2004 and 2008). It’s set to host its third next May. The “Case” has been the host of the ITA Men’s All-American Championships every year since 2004, and it has also hosted the Pan American ITF Junior Championships.
Each of the outdoor courts has its own scoreboard, and there is a master scoreboard at the far end of the facility. While there aren’t individual scoreboards indoors, there are two large scoreboards viewable from just about every angle. The Case Tennis Center also has training facilities, offices, support facilities, a pro shop and a lounge.
George R. Brown Tennis Center
Rice decided to go big with its new $8 million, 126,000 square-foot George R. Brown Tennis Center. The complex, named after the former chair of the Rice Board of Governors, has 14 courts, with covered seating for 600 spectators on the six main competition courts. The first court is set a below ground level, creating a concert bowl type of atmosphere. There is a canopy that covers each of the player benches, and it includes a plaza area with additional seating, locker rooms, team lounges and offices.
Ralph and Becky O’Connor provided the lead funding for the complex, and all 14 courts have been named after donors who helped get the complex off the ground. Ralph O’Connor, who is a Rice trustee emeritus, is the founder, president, and CEO of Ralph O’Connor and Associates, a private investment firm that focuses on real estate and oil and gas exploration.
Atkins Tennis Center/Khan Outdoor Complex
Brad Dancer, Kevin Anderson and Rajeev Ram have all contributed to University of Illinois becoming a powerhouse tennis school. The reality is that they have been very fortunate to have spend time at a longstanding, incredible facility.
Rising out of the pastures on the Champaign/Urbana border is the University of Illinois’ Atkins Tennis Center and Khan Outdoor Complex. The Atkins Tennis Center, which cost $5.3 million, was opened in 1991 and was originally comprised of eight outdoor and six indoor courts. The indoor courts reside inside a 58,000 square foot building that also includes a pro shop, locker rooms and offices. The facility was made possible thanks to a $2.5 million donation from Champaign’s Clint and Susie Atkins.
In 2009, thanks to a donation from Shahid and Ann Khan, the tennis complex was expanded to include 12 new outdoor courts and a new building structure on the east side of the indoor center. The structure created a new entrance to the indoor center along with two new locker rooms, a new sports medicine area, a pro shop and new public restrooms. Shahid Khan, an Illinois grad, is also the owner of the NFL’s Jacksonville Jaguars as well as Fulham of the Barclays Premier League.
The Atkins Tennis Center hosted the 2013 NCAA Championships and it has also hosted a men’s ITF Pro Circuit Challenger since 1996.
Headington Family Tennis Center
John Roddick (Andy’s older brother) has molded the Sooners into a national powerhouse. The development has taken place in a top-flight outdoor facility. Built in 2001, the Headington Family Tennis Center has a total of 18 courts12 outdoor and six indoor—at the Gregg Wadley Indoor Tennis Pavilion.
The outdoor courts, which were completed in 2001 at a cost of $1.4 million, are laid out in four sets of three, with seating for 720 dividing them in the middle. All of the seating areas have canopy covers, and there are electronic scoreboards on each court.
The Gregg Wadley Indoor Tennis Pavilion, a 55,000 square foot building housing six indoor courts, was finished in 2009 at a cost of $8.4 million. Gregg Wadley, an Oklahoma City businessman, was the lead donor. The indoor pavilion has locker rooms for the home and visiting teams, a team recreation room, storage for trainers and equipment staff, and 375 seats behind the baselines. The courts are laid out in two sets of three with a large scoreboard in the middle.
6. University of Georgia
Dan Magill Tennis Complex
When you say “college tennis,” one of the first things that should come to mind is Georgia and the Dan Magill Tennis Complex. No other city has hosted more NCAA Championships than Athens, with 31 events (24 men’s, three women’s and four dual-gender). The atmosphere in Athens is tough to match in any sport.
The 16-court facility (12 outdoor and four indoor) was opened in 1977. The Henry Field Stadium has a 4,500-seat grandstand behind Courts 1, 2 and 3, along with additional stadium seating. Four more outdoor courts are laid out next to the indoor center, with another two courts sitting up on a small hill.
The four-court Lindsey Hopkins Indoor Center was built in 1980 and has seating for roughly 1,000 spectators. It will become a six-court facility by the time the NCAA Championships return in May 2017.
Lighting for the outdoor courts was added in 1991, thanks to a $90,000 donation from actress and Athens native Kim Basinger. The complex beside the courts houses the Men’s Collegiate Tennis Hall of Fame, which was built in 1984 thanks to a $200,000 donation from singer Kenny Rogers.
5. Texas A&M
George P. Mitchell Tennis Center
There has been an explosion of tennis facilities popping up all over Texas in the last few years, but the school that got it all started was Texas A&M in College Station. The Mitchell Tennis Center, which has 12 lit outdoor courts with seating for up to 3,000, was built in 1998 at a cost of $4.2 million.
The Mitchell Tennis Center has locker rooms, a full-sized training room, a player’s lounge and offices. There are also individual scoreboards on every court. In 2001, the Phil and Dee Springer Family Stadium Club opened, giving season-ticket holders access to covered courtside seats between Courts 1 and 2. It has hosted three NCAA Tournaments (2002, 2005 and 2009) along with numerous USTA and junior events.
Austin Krajicek, who broke into the Top 100 for the first time this year, is a Texas A&M alumni, two-time All-American and NCAA doubles title champion (with Jeff Dadamo). The Aggies continue to bring in top talent each year and one of its best selling points has to be this beautiful facility.
4. Oklahoma State
Michael and Anne Greenwood Tennis Center
Oklahoma State Tennis got a modern makeover when the Michael and Anne Greenwood Tennis Center opened in January 2014. The $10 million, 18-court, 50,000 square foot tennis center has all the bells and whistles that the old Jack DeBois Tennis Complex lacked. (The lack of an indoor facility meant that teams had to travel more than 50 miles to Oklahoma City, Edmond or Tulsa in the event of rain.)
The six-court indoor center has an electronic scoreboard on each court and seating for 350 spectators, plus standing room. It also houses offices, locker rooms, and a sport medicine hub with a hydrotherapy center. The 12-court outdoor facility is set up in two sets of six courts. There is canopied stadium seating behind Courts 1 and 2.
Michael and Anne Greenwood, who are both OSU alumni, provided the lead gift to get this project started. The Greenwoods also agreed to match the first $4 million of donor contributions as part of their initial gift.
3. Wake Forest
Wake Forest Tennis Complex
The cranes arrived in 2010 and replaced Wake’s aging five-court facility with one of the few American college facilities built to serve both college and professional tennis. The now 13-court facility hosts the ATP Winston Salem Open, a stop on the Emirates Airline U.S. Open Series.
The 13 outdoor deco-turf courts feature two banks of three courts in a ‘V’ shape that allows for some of the most unique viewing perspective in college tennis. Wake Forest also has an eight-court indoor facility, ensuring that they can host the NCAA Championship.
The facility is already planning to undergo a mini-major makeover by adding stadium seating around the college courts, a missing element that has been the only real fly in the Wake facility ointment. The school's athletic director of 22 years, Ron Wellman says, "The addition of new seating areas continues to keep the Tennis Center on the cutting edge of modern day venues. This will also be a significant step ahead as we prepare to host the 2018 NCAA Championships. Whether Wake Forest is hosting a collegiate match or a professional tournament, the layout of the grounds will appeal to all fans."
Schools with great facilities and professional exposure tend to bring in the best juniors. Wake Forest won the recruiting contest in 2014 when junior Wimbledon champion Noah Rubin played on the team for a year.
2. Southern Methodist University
SMU Tennis Complex
When a few donors (Edwin Cox, the Turpin Family, Altec/Styslinger Foundation and the Brookshire Family) put together over $10 million to build a tennis center, you are going to get something off the charts. The Turpin Stadium has six outdoor courts, and while it lacks in stadium seating, it can be expanded to accommodate larger tournaments.
One of the best things about the facility is the integration between the outdoor courts, the indoor courts, and the amenities. There is second- and third-floor viewing in the Styslinger Family Grand Viewing Terrace and the Edwin L. Cox Club Suite that allows viewers to watch both indoor and outdoor action. The suite has an entertainment area and a catering kitchen; the gym and rehab center is state-of-the-art; the classrooms, meeting rooms and offices are all in one place.
“I remember the first time the whole team walked into the facility and hit on the courts,” junior Hunter Johnson says. “We were completely shocked that we could call this facility our own.”
Hurd Tennis Center
The new Hurd Tennis Center is nothing short of a game changer. Bloomberg called it “the talk of college tennis.” Baylor senior Julian Lenz says, “My junior tennis career took me to tennis facilities all over the world, including the U.S. Open, but Baylor’s facility is definitely the best I’ve had the privilege to compete and train in.”
Mark Hurd, the CEO of Oracle and once a scholarship tennis player at Baylor, teamed up with Larry Ellison, his Oracle business colleague and Indian Wells tournament owner, to help give tennis a huge boost. Led by Hurd, Oracle has become college tennis’ biggest sponsor, recently becoming ITA Tennis' title sponsor. What Ellison has done for pro tennis, Hurd is doing for college tennis.
Baylor has 12 outdoor courts and another six indoors within the Neil Hawkins Center. The six main outdoor grandstand courts can comfortably hold 2,000 fans and are mostly canopied. Adjacent to the grandstand are six riverside courts, which overlook the Brazos River and the Baylor Marina inlet. The Hurd Tennis Center hosted the 2015 NCAA Championships and streamed all the action live.
Lenz adds, "The state-of-the art Hawkins Indoor facility has also been an absolute dream to play in. It has truly set Baylor apart from other universities as we are one of the only with six full indoor courts. The courts are lit wonderfully and make it very easy to play in and transition from when playing outside."
The players have access to lockers that are more like walk-in closets with rolling doors and keypad entries, and a lounge with leather coaches and big-screen TVs. Everything about Baylor's facility is top drawer, and it's largely thanks to Hurd. But what makes Baylor even more special is the raucous fans who come to the matches, eager to cheer. It’s easy to see why they do.
North Carolina, San Diego State, Alabama, Harvard, Notre Dame