LOUISVILLE, KY (WAVE) - The West Louisville Tennis Club is one step closer to re-opening the clay tennis courts at Chickasaw Park, just in time for a big tennis tournament.
They are the only free, public clay tennis courts in Louisville. Olmsted Parks Conservancy is helping the group raise $5,000 to fix the courts.
The tennis club said the upcoming Arthur Lloyd Johnson Memorial Tournament has been happening every year since 2003. Usually around this time of year, more clay, or Har-Tru, is added to the court to get it through the summer and fall seasons.
“It has to be maintained every year," Donnie Morris, the instructor of youth programs for the West Louisville Tennis Club, said. "It has to be scraped off and new Har-Tru put on and that comes at a cost.”
Morris has been voluntarily doing maintenance on the courts for 15 years.
“When the city came with its budget shortfall, that caused a problem,” Morris said.
Morris and club President Dr. Aretha Fuqua started working to spread the word and find help.
Since then, they’ve been blown away at the support from the community.
“It’s kind of heartwarming for me and also the West Louisville Tennis community because we never had that much attention before. So for it to come at a time when it’s most needed -- it has meant the world to us,” Fuqua said. “The partnerships -- we’re hoping they will be long-lasting.”
Fuqua said Olmsted Parks Conservancy and the USTA Kentucky have been a tremendous help in trying to get the funds raised to fix the clay courts and the hard courts in time for the tournament in June. Fuqua also said Louisville Metro Parks will be providing tools and volunteers to install the clay and make the necessary repairs before the tournament.
The tennis club has also had state representatives contact them.
Chickasaw Park, and especially its tennis courts, are special to both Fuqua and Morris.
“What I love about it is at one time it was the only park African Americans could attend in west Louisville,” Morris said.
Morris and Fuqua have played on the courts over the years for fun and during tournaments.
“I've won many and I've lost many. I continue to play but I try to stay away from the harder courts because they're a little tough on the joints but I do play a lot on the clay courts,” Fuqua said. “We have never missed a year [of this tournament] and it's so important to our legacy.”
Olmstead Parks Conservancy Director of Marketing Stephanie George said they are confident they will be able to collect the funds soon to start the work.
For more information on the Arthur Lloyd Johnson Memorial Tennis Tournament, click or tap here.