Sept. 9, 2005
The University of Iowa men's and women's tennis teams have a new home.
The Hawkeyes opened the 2005-06 fall semester practicing on nine new outdoor tennis courts located at the West Tennis and Recreation Center, a facility which is one piece of the UI's multi-million dollar West Campus Project.
Iowa's two head coaches are delighted to once again have a place to call home and the advantages the facility has brought to their programs.
"At first I thought we were playing on somebody else's court, but now I'm starting to realize that it's ours," joked Steve Houghton, the dean of Iowa's head coaches with 24 years of experience on the UI campus.
"This project has been a long time coming, and they have done a terrific job on them so far," he said, adding that this could be the best thing that has happened to the tennis program since he was named Iowa's head coach of the UI men's tennis program.
Although head women's tennis coach Daryl Greenan has been on staff for a fraction of the time that Houghton has - one year to be exact - he still has great appreciation for the new facilities.
"The new courts really have a great look and a great feel to them. They will also be very fan friendly because they are right here in town," Greenan said.
Last year the women's team played their home meets at Coe College in Cedar Rapids, which made it difficult for fans to make the road trip to watch. Iowa had three different practice sites last spring: Iowa City's City Park, the UI Recreation Building, and the North Dodge Athletic Club. The Hawkeyes overcame the obstacles and qualified for the NCAA post-season championship for the fifth time in school history.
"Now we're going to have a home court advantage. It's going to be great. We will have a consistent place to practice and to stage our competitive events," said Greenan.
Houghton is also ready to get settled in the new facilities.
"Last year, we were like nomads because we traveled around and didn't have a home court. Now we can practice on the outdoor courts, and literally watch the progress being made on the indoor project which is just next door," said Houghton.
The "project next door" is the indoor tennis facility that also includes recreational space, team meeting rooms, team locker rooms and office space for the head coaches.
Greenan believes the new tennis courts will enhance game play in part because of the U.S. Open-like blue and green color scheme of the playing surface.
"It is great because the eye really picks up the ball well. The new color scheme will not only be player friendly, but also umpire and fan friendly. That is one of the reasons the U.S. Open went in that direction with respect to the colors of the surface," he said.
Houghton has been impressed with not only the new surface, but also the advantage that it will give the Hawkeyes from a recruiting standpoint.
"We have a group of recruits coming to visit in October and it will be nice to show them the actual courts instead of showing blueprints," the veteran Hawkeye said.
"I can literally tell them that they will spend their whole college life in a brand new indoor and outdoor facility. We haven't had that opportunity in quite some time."
The indoor portion of the West Campus Tennis and Recreation center is slated to be complete late next summer. It will add eight more tennis courts, bleacher seating for spectators, and a handful of support space.
The new West Campus Tennis and Recreation Center is located about 500 yards northwest of the Roy G. Karro Building / UI Athletics Hall of Fame which is immediately west of award-winning Finkbine Golf Course at the corner of Melrose Avenue and Mormon Trek Boulevard.