Sportsmen’s Breaks Ground on $5M Expansion in Dorchester, Mass.

October 12, 2022

Serena Williams may have retired, but the future of tennis is bright for aspiring young players like her growing up in Boston. Twenty years before she was born, the Black community in Boston founded the first indoor non-profit tennis club in the US – Sportsmen’s Tennis & Enrichment Center. On Oct. 12, next to a building that bears the faces of her sister Venus, and tennis legend Arthur Ashe, the award-winning Sportsmen’s will break ground on a multi-year expansion.

Lindsey Keeler, CEO and Executive Director of the U.S. Tennis Association of New England, will join Boston’s Chief of Health & Human Services, Jose Masso, Representative Russell Holmes and others in the ceremony at the club at 950 Blue Hill Avenue. The project will enclose four of the facility’s existing seven outdoor tennis courts – enabling more year-round play and providing additional revenue for the nonprofit, which was recently named the USTA Foundation’s National Junior Tennis & Learning Chapter of the Year.

“When Sportsmen’s was established, it broke ground literally and historically as the first indoor nonprofit tennis facility in the US founded by the Black community. Today’s groundbreaking reinforces our commitment to serving local children and families 60 years later,” said Toni Wiley, CEO of Sportsmen’s. In addition to tennis programming, the club hosts after school academic and enrichment programs alongside community health education initiatives for adults and children. A capital campaign spearheaded by Sportsmen’s parents Scott & Alison Babka raised nearly $5 million dollars to fund Phase I of the project, which is scheduled to be completed in May of 2023.

“The hard work and dedication to see this project from ideation to groundbreaking under Toni’s leadership have been incredible. As one of our most valued facilities and partners, we are thrilled that Sportsmen’s is expanding and preserving its rich tennis history in the heart of Dorchester,” said Keeler. The project, managed by Shawmut Construction, features a unique green initiative that will redirect a portion of the energy generated by new rooftop solar panels to homes in the community. This will be done via a partnership with Resonant Energy, whose founder and Co-CEO, Isaac Baker, will be on hand to discuss the venture.

Phase II of the project will establish the Bud Collins Welcome Center, named after the famed journalist and long-time supporter of Sportsmen’s. Supported by his widow, Anita Klaussen, it will add classroom and fitness space, a teaching kitchen and two new outdoor courts. It will also house the Breaking the Barriers exhibit which tells the story of Black tennis in the United States since 1916. Created by the Black Tennis Hall of Fame, the exhibit was originally on display at the US Open before moving to the International Tennis Hall of Fame.