Indiana Community Tennis Program will host its first Indy Tennis Palooza on June 29 at the Barbara S. Wynne Tennis Center, by North Central High School, in hopes of introducing children and their families to tennis and other sports that can open up a path to a healthy and active lifestyle.
With this being the first Indy Tennis Palooza, Barbara Wynne, one of the event’s organizers and the Tennis Center’s namesake, said she just wants a decent showing that Indiana Community Tennis Program can continue to grow on in the future.
“Do I hope thousands of kids will come? Of course I do,” Wynne said. “Maybe it’ll be the first time, and people will talk about it, and more people will come next year. I don’t know. … All you can do is do your best. That’s what I plan to do.”
Children will be able to go to age-appropriate events across 34 tennis courts. Along with tennis, there will be basketball, soccer, table tennis, even chess. Children can collect participation stamps and earn a prize.
Part of the event will include Arthur Ashe Kids’ Day. Two tennis courts will be used to teach about Ashe’s life. Ashe was the first African American man to win three tennis Grand Slam titles. He was also the first Black tennis player to be selected to the United States Davis Cup team in 1963. Ashe died in 1993 when he was 49 years old.
One of his biggest accomplishments was starting the National Junior Tennis League — he later called it National Junior Tennis and Learning — in 1969. The program also has a history in Indianapolis. Wynne started the Riverside Upswing program the same year, and four years later it became the Indianapolis chapter of the NJTL. Wynne formed a friendship with Ashe and was an honorary pallbearer at his funeral.
Wynne said they’re trying to get someone from the Army to come to the event because Ashe served in the military in the 1960s.
“I want it to be a place where people can come together,” Wynne said of the Indy Tennis Palooza. “I would love for it someday to become so important that it becomes an Indiana festival, a family festival.”
The palooza is part of a string of events bringing Indianapolis’ tennis history to the forefront. Riverside Park Tennis Courts were dedicated June 8 to Marion Rice, who helped Indianapolis overcome segregation in tennis so more African Americans could play the sport.
Contact staff writer Tyler Fenwick at 317-762-7853. Follow him on Twitter @Ty_Fenwick.
INDY TENNIS PALOOZA
• When: 10 a.m.-4 p.m. June 29
• Where: Metropolitan School District of Washington Township Barbara S. Wynne Tennis Center, 1805 E. 86th St.
• Cost: $5 for kids, $10 for adults, $25 for a family of four and free for kids under 3 at tennisprogram.com