BERKELEY – With Director of Athletics Sandy Barbour and lead donor Kent Newmark donning hard hats and wielding ceremonial shovels, California broke ground on its Tennis Facility Upgrade Project on Friday morning at the Hellman Tennis Complex.
The scope of the project includes a series of improvements that will benefit the powerhouse men’s and women’s tennis teams as well as fans of both programs:
- New building housing men’s and women’s team locker rooms, restrooms and showers.
- New public restrooms for fans.
- New elevated seating extending from court No. 1 to court No. 6.
- New team lounge/academic room.
Local architecture firm ELS and general contracting firm Vila Construction – both of which have worked extensively on other projects on the Cal campus – will be teaming up on this eight-month project. Cal Athletics has received gifts and pledges to cover the cost of the renovation, and the tennis teams are continuing to raise funds for scholarships and branding efforts associated with the broader, $3.6 million campaign.
“This renovation, this upgrade, is so important in giving our student-athletes what they need, not only to succeed athletically, but it’s also a big part of their everyday lives and how they succeed in the community and in the classroom,” Barbour said at the ceremony. “It’s about creating world-class conditions for our student-athletes and their experience here.
“I want to say a special thanks to Kent and Pat Newmark as really the impetus behind this,” Barbour continued. “They are ‘Builders of Berkeley,’ which certainly tells you about their investment, their passion for this university and their belief in our students and their belief in our mission. I cannot thank them enough for all they do – not only in terms of their generosity but just in terms of passion and support, and being behind us every day and encouraging us to get better and to think big.”
Kent Newmark (Cal Class of 1960 BA and Class of 1964 MBA) contributed the lead gift of $750,000 for the Tennis Facility Upgrade Project. He competed in tennis and in track & field at Cal and has contributed to his alma mater in several ways through the years. Several years ago, he and Pat initiated the annual Newmark Awards, which recognize the men’s and women’s teams with the top GPAs and the team with the most improved GPA.
“This was initially planned to be a gift in my will,” Newmark joked. “I decided it I would get a whole lot more enjoyment out of this if I were here to see it. I am so pleased to be part of this. It’s going to be a great facility.”
Cal tennis head coaches Peter Wright and Amanda Augustus, both Cal alumni, also attended the groundbreaking. Wright (Class of 1991) is in his 22nd year overseeing the men’s program, which has earned 14 consecutive and 32 overall NCAA tournament berths in its history. Augustus (Class of 1999) is in her seventh year as coach of the women’s squad, which has competed in all 32 NCAA tournaments.
In addition to their on-court success, student-athletes in both programs have performed well in the classroom as the two teams have received special recognition from the NCAA for their high Academic Progress Rate scores in recent years.
“Something like this is long overdue,” said Augustus, whose team is ranked eighth in the first ITA poll of 2014. “Thank you so much to Kent and Pat for getting this going. It’s going to put us on par with some of our competitors in the Pac-12, and it’s really going to make the everyday experience of these hard-working men and women that much better.”
“As we move forward with this project, we are hoping to be finished with this late in the summer, and in the fall we’ll have a ribbon-cutting,” added Wright, whose Bears are ranked No. 17. “We’re really looking forward to that. What we are doing here today is celebrating the gift from Kent and Pat Newmark and putting shovels in the ground for this project. This is a very significant day for our tennis programs – today and into the future.”
The Cal women’s team opens the New Year when it hosts the Cal Winter Invitational from Jan. 17-19, while the Cal men’s team begins 2014 when its hosts San Francisco in a dual match on Jan. 21. Some matches during the 2014 season may be moved to the Channing Courts on campus when construction could impact play. The Cal Winter Invitational will utilize both Hellman and Channing facilities. Fans should check CalBears.com for updates throughout the year.