The Fort Walton Beach community saw tennis make an official return on Saturday, Jan. 5, 2019 when USTA Florida celebrated the reopening of the formerly-shuttered facility with a Grand Re-Opening Festival attended by more than 250 local tennis players and community supporters.
Directed by the USTA Florida Tennis Management Division in partnership with the City of Fort Walton Beach, the facility still undergoing renovations was christened by a ribbon-cutting ceremony that included Fort Walton Beach Mayor Dick Rynearson, City Recreation & Cultural Services Director Jeff Peters, and USTA Florida staff including Executive Director Laura Bowen and USTA Florida President Clark Higgs. The ribbon-cutting was broadcast live on the FWB Tennis Center Facebook page.
“This is a great day for the City of Fort Walton Beach, this is a great partnership with USTA Florida, it’s been a marriage that’s been made in heaven,” Mayor Dick Rynearson said. “Wonderful things have happened here, the courts refurbishment, the winter rye landscaping, and it’s just a taste of things to come. There are great plans in our future — building renovations, possible building additions — we see nothing but great things happening for this tennis center. The partnership with USTA Florida could not be any better, what a great group of people to work with.”
More than 250 local players and supporters enjoyed tennis, pickleball, Net Generation play for children 10 and under, lunch from Sonny’s BBQ, off-court activities including a caricaturist, photo booth and face painting, and a mixed doubles exhibition featuring top Florida adult and collegiate players.
The event also accepted donations to assist Florida Panhandle tennis facilities to rebuild or repair after last year’s extensive damage from Hurricane Michael. After the hurricane USTA Florida started a fund where 100 percent of donations go directly to help tennis facilities that provide a safe place for kids, families and friends to come together as a community. Tennis supporters can still donate to the fund at ustaflhurricanerelief.funraise.org.
Fort Walton Beach is one of three cities with facilities managed by the USTA Florida Tennis Management Division, joining Cocoa Beach and Gainesville. The USTA Florida Tennis Management Division was established in 2017 to partner with municipalities that need help running a quality tennis facility.
For more photos and video or to learn more about the Fort Walton Beach Tennis Center go to www.fwbtenniscenter.com.