Nov. 20, 2007
The ground breaking took place with OU Vice President for Athletics Program and Director of Athletics Joe Castiglione highlighting the facility and the contributions made by the donors. University President David L. Boren also addressed the crowd thanking the donors, Castiglione and the OU Athletics Department for their tireless efforts to make this project a realization.
Junior Brittany Baldy spoke to the crowd on behalf of the women's tennis program. Alumnus Tommy Garrison, who was a four-time academic All-America addressed the crowd on behalf of the men's program.
Castiglione said the new facility strengthens the tennis program and OU's Athletics Department.
"We are glad to finally get to this day. I use the phrase "leap of faith" because this is truly a testimony to people having faith that something can happen. This one is really special because now we have state-of-the-art facilities indoor and outdoor. We are able to put the men's and women's tennis programs in a better position to be competitive. They certainly have been the most competitive that we have in the classroom and now we can help them grow and improve in the tennis program," Castiglione said.
The indoor facility, which will be located east of the Headington Family Tennis Center outdoor courts, is scheduled for a December 2008 completion.
Highlights of the new, 55,000 square-foot facility include six air-conditioned courts, championship-quality lighting and surface, and approximately 375 chair-back seats for spectators (elevated between courts).
"If we are committed to having a men's and women's tennis program, why not give them the facilities to practice and compete. If you are in a position to make it state of the art, then take the opportunity to make a major statement. This is not about being better than someone else. It is a situation where we evaluated what we needed to be successful in sponsoring men's and women's tennis at Oklahoma," Castiglione continued.
The facility is being named to honor Gregg Wadley, founder of Datacom Sciences, who together with his wife, Dr. Susan E. Brackett, an OU alumna and formerly an instructor in the university's College of Dentistry, provided the lead gift for the project. The couple, who also established the Susan E. Brackett Endowed Chair for the OU School of Dance, resides in Oklahoma City.
"We had a vision for many years. Mark Johnson and I would come out to these fields two decades ago and pace off land and dream what it could be like someday and sure enough with the wonderful donors that have stepped forward it is now becoming a reality. We are very thankful to the Wadley's and the Sarkeys, the Bravers and the Headingtons. We are very blessed and very excited," men's head coach Paul Lockwood said.
Other major gifts include $1.5 million from Dallas businessman, OU alumni and former OU tennis letter-winner Tim Headington and $1 million from the Sarkeys Foundation.
Headington also was the lead donor on the Sooner's outdoor facility, which opened in 2001.
"It is amazing the opportunities this opens up for your team as far as recruiting, giving your players the opportunity to practice better, bringing in better teams and hosting more matches early in the season. It is just a major, major benefit for the program," women's head coach Mark Johnson said.
The Sarkeys gift will be recognized with a plaza at the Headington Center in the names of the late Robert S. Rizley, formerly a Sarkeys Foundation Board member, and Joseph W. Morris, a current member of that board.
A number of other donors participated in this project, including several former student-athletes.