STAFF WRITER JENNIFER FIERRO
As its partnership with the Roddick Youth Tennis Foundation comes to an end, the city of Granite Shoals can now move forward with plans to build a more diverse athletic complex.
During the Granite Shoals City Council meeting July 9, city officials announced the end of the partnership. The decision came about after discussions with Roddick Youth Tennis Foundation members regarding the future of the facility. The foundation was set up by former professional tennis player Andy Roddick and members of his family.
In 2011, the Roddick Youth Tennis Foundation signed a lease for space on the City Hall complex, also known as Quarry Park, that would allow for the construction of several courts at the Roddick Tennis Center. The foundation raised the funds and built two smaller QuickStart courts and two full-size ones. It wanted to build at least four more full-size courts.
“As long as the Roddicks were involved, they had the authority to determine the number of courts and when they were built,” said Granite Shoals City Manager Jeff Looney, who came aboard in 2018. “They wanted to create more tennis courts. They had a plan. I haven’t seen the plan, but I know that was the plan: to do more.”
But while reviewing the agreement between the city and the foundation, Looney spotted a potential problem.
In 2017, the city landed a Texas Parks and Wildlife Department grant for $500,000. The grant outlined using the same area the foundation wanted for tennis courts to build two youth soccer fields, two volleyball courts, two basketball courts, three batting cages, one shuffleboard court, and a pickleball court.
However, under a January 2015 agreement with the city, the foundation had the final say on what would be built in that location.
Now, with the foundation stepping out, the city can move forward with its plan for the grant.
Frank Reilly, the former mayor of Granite Shoals and the municipal judge, advocated for the establishment of the Roddick Tennis Center in Granite Shoals. He saw it as a potential economic driver, luring regional tournaments to the city.
Despite the efforts of Reilly, the foundation, and the tennis community, the center never grew into that economic development engine.
Other things also led to the foundation leaving the partnership, including the health of foundation member David Holder, a driving force behind the center being built in Granite Shoals, and the passing of Jerry Roddick, Andy Roddick’s father and a big proponent of the center.
Also, Reilly’s position as the Granite Shoals municipal judge doesn’t allow him to raise money or provide in-kind donations, something he previously did to support the tennis center.
Still, Reilly, in a written statement, highlighted the reasons to celebrate the center.
“As we have all said from the beginning, the Roddicks included, is that even if the project did not reach its full potential, the city and its taxpayers would receive a gift of recreational facilities that they would not have ordinarily been able to develop on their own. And so, we close out this chapter with roughly a quarter-million (dollars) or more in assets that wouldn’t have been built without the help of the Roddick Youth Tennis Foundation and its principals. Granite Shoals owes Blanche (Roddick), Jerry, Lawrence (Roddick), Dave, and all those who helped the foundation in this endeavor, a great debt of gratitude.”
The city will keep the Roddick Youth Tennis Foundation name near the courts to honor the family.
Now that the foundation is no longer involved, the city becomes the center’s caretaker, Looney said. And the city is free to construct the other sports courts and fields to create a multipurpose facility.
“We’re going to focus on doing that with the Texas Parks and Wildlife grant,” Looney said.
The Texas Parks and Wildlife Department grant also includes a softball field or youth baseball field and soccer field, Looney said.