Armstrong welcomes tennis team home


DSCF0650Teresa Dunham, Staff Writer

Over one hundred people gathered Aug. 18 as Armstrong held its official ribbon cutting ceremony to celebrate the opening of the new Tennis Complex. President Linda Bleicken, Athletic Director Lisa Sweany, head tennis coach Sean McCaffrey, and seniors Luca Cerin and Diana Stromlega all participated in cutting the red ribbon.

President Bleicken opened the ceremony, highlighting our National Championship tennis team’s homecoming as well as the overall appreciation Armstrong has for the construction of the complex by EMC Engineering.  She was also grateful for Bacon Park hosting ASU matches in the past.

“These tennis courts are an inspiring symbol,” Bleicken said. “And so today it is indeed my pleasure, whether you are current tennis players… or you’re past tennis players, to welcome you home.”

Students and faculty shared this sentiment with President Bleicken.

When asked if the new tennis complex would lead to another National Championship, National Champion and senior Carolina Prats-Millan said,“Absolutely! Having the courts here will only encourage us to play better as a team.”

National champion Lena Lutzeier said, “It is not about us as individual players. We play as a team and as a university.”

Head Coach McCaffrey has high hopes for the new courts.

“We expect this tennis center to act as a hub for competitive and community tennis. We have the perfect tennis match set up for college matches. It’s going to get loud out here and it’s going to get exciting.”

Director Sweany had much to say in a later interview, particularly about how the $1.5 million complex will affect the successful ASU tennis teams and tennis club.

Sweany, who has seen many tennis courts in her lifetime, was impressed with the complex: “The courts are phenomenal. The two huge scoreboards, you don’t see that, particularly in Division II, but you don’t see that in tennis complexes.”

“Having the ability to play on campus and play at home, I think is going to help [the tennis] club to grow and progress with their team,” Sweany added. Instead of driving to Bacon Park, tennis players can now easily walk to their practices and matches.

Tennis player Luca Cerin ended the speeches with a shared feeling of pride among the tennis team: “We pride ourselves in being winners, in being champions, and we want to keep this tradition going. We will bring the championship back and we will maintain the championship here at Armstrong.”

The new courts were christened after the speeches by current and former players serving while a contractor’s drone flew overhead, capturing the iconic moment.

Among the 12 servers were some local Armstrong celebrities: alumni and adjunct professor Faye Kirschner, professor and former coach Dr. Michael Lariscy, junior Lena Lutzeier and senior Ignacio “Nacho” Hernandez.  

After both the men and women’s tennis teams signed the tennis balls used in the first serves, team practice was held for the first time at Armstrong in six years.

Hall-of-Famer Mike Beyers, a former ASU player and coach, reiterated the overall feelings of the day: “It is nice to be back home.”  

For those not part of the tennis team, but are enthusiastic about playing tennis, the athletic administration is finalizing a schedule for open court times that will be available this week.