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Bo O’Brien could soak up the view for hours Saturday at the new Freeman Lake Tennis Complex.
O’Brien, the Elizabethtown Tennis Commission chairman who spearheaded the movement for the facility, loves gushing about it. In his mind, it’s the best setting in the state.
“I don’t really care if you don’t play tennis, you can come out and just stand and enjoy the lake,” said O’Brien, an Elizabethtown High School graduate. “This is going to bring more people out to the lake, which we’ve had for quite a few years, but it’s going to bring more people out to the lake.”
More than 50 people attended the complex’s ribbon-cutting Saturday afternoon. Jenkins-Essex Construction designed the facility, which includes 10 green and blue courts (five with lights), a restroom area and a view of Freeman Lake, at a cost not to exceed $1.3 million.
Elizabethtown Mayor Tim Walker gave a proclamation and acknowledged O’Brien was instrumental in helping get the project off the ground. But he acknowledged it was a lot more than him.
“It’s something to really be proud of,” Walker said. “It really is.”
The complex broke ground in June and just over six months later, Elizabethtown now has 22 city-maintained courts – including eight at University Drive and four at American Legion Park – so it can attract some premier tournaments around the state.
It’s the second major sports facility to open in Elizabethtown this year, with the near-$30 million Elizabethtown Sport Parks opening in July.
“It just enhances to our quality of life. This year, we had a great year. We opened Elizabethtown Sports Park. It’s getting national attention. We opened the nature park, the Veteran’s Tribute, we did that on Veteran’s Day. And now the tennis complex,” Walker said. “This is another tool in the toolbox, if you will, that enhances our quality of life and really helps us promote Elizabethtown. It’s going to be a win for people that (don’t) even play tennis. It’s going to be a win, just like the Sports Park – that people that don’t even play sports. The nature park impacts everybody. But this is something that’s going to impact the community in a positive way by promoting Elizabethtown.”
Sharon Rahman, who has served as USTA Kentucky’s executive director for the past six years, loves it and thinks it’s going to make Elizabethtown a prime hub. Rahman said the USTA is always in need of more courts, especially for the organization’s multitude of championships – from adult league to mixed league to tri-level ones. Cities need 15 to 20 courts to bid on their events, so this gives Elizabethtown the chance to do so. And Rahman added a championship is estimated to bring $300,000-$500,000 in economic development to an area with its flagship events.
Rahman was on hand for the dedication and couldn’t believe the setting. Now that’s it finally built and in place, she thinks it’s incredible.
“What a wonderful place, whether you’re playing or just coming out to hang out and watch others play, I just can’t believe it,” Rahman said. “I was sincere when I said we can’t wait to get down here and have some events. People from around the state are going to just go ‘wow.’”
John Groth can be reached at (270) 505-1754 or firstname.lastname@example.org.