Naked City

CATA's Top-Seeded Plan

Austin's ball-whacking, racket-packing set will be happy to know that the Capital Area Tennis Association is courting the Parks and Recreation Dept. to get a tournament-sized tennis facility built in Austin. The idea originated about four or five years ago, when CATA leaders realized city courts couldn't handle Austin's growing tennis-playing population. Furthermore, running a large tennis event here has become increasingly difficult, says executive director Carol Welder, and tournaments must be spread across the city's different courts.

"We feel like we're losing potential tournaments and programs," Welder says. "People like coming here, but we don't have the large facility to accommodate them." A nonprofit that sponsors many area leagues and U.S. Tennis Association events, CATA boasts more than 2,500 members. The facility they've proposed would include a stadium court and a minimum of 25 to 30 smaller courts, Welder says. She envisions a multi-purpose facility with jogging trails, office space, and classrooms.

Comparing CATA's proposed courts to a similar facility under way in Waco, Welder estimates the project would cost four to five million dollars. Austin taxpayers will be pleased to know that CATA expects private donors to foot the bill. Yet another big question remains: Where to put the danged thing? On Sept. 18, CATA members gave a presentation to Parks and Rec officials and board members charged with delegating parklands to site projects. They seemed "receptive" to the court idea, Welder says. "We were looking somewhere north," she says.

In 1998, the city approved a bond to expand tennis facilities, but Welder says money probably won't be used for three more years. Meantime, she reports that reconstruction at Caswell -- including replacement of old courts -- will begin in April of 2002, and South Austin will get a beauty treatment in 2003.

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