Alumnus honors wife with gift to support tennis center
WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. Purdue Intercollegiate Athletics today (Wednesday, 9/25) announced that an alumnus has donated almost half the money needed to build a $6.5 million, 60,000-square-foot indoor tennis facility featuring up to eight new tennis courts.
A formal announcement of the future Dennis J. and Mary Lou Schwartz Tennis Center took place today at the existing outdoor tennis courts west of the Recreational Sports Center. The center will be named for lead donor Dennis Schwartz, who has pledged $3 million toward the facility in honor of his late wife. It will be located east of the Boilermaker Aquatic Center. An additional six outdoor practice courts will be added, doubling the number of outdoor courts.
Purdue University President Martin C. Jischke said Schwartz's generosity will enable the Purdue tennis teams to take their programs to the next level.
"The Schwartz family has provided a tremendous boost for Purdue tennis," Jischke said. "This new tennis center will enable Purdue to attract top-caliber student-athletes and position Purdue as an NCAA tennis leader."
In addition to the new courts, the facility will feature a second-level concourse and seating for 1,000 spectators. Exterior permanent seating also will be built on the concourse for watching outdoor matches on the existing varsity courts, which will be renovated. Team and public locker rooms will be located at court level below the concourse.
Additional features include a hall of fame in the entry lobby to showcase the heritage of Purdue tennis. A pro shop, administration offices and concession area also will be built.
Morgan Burke, Purdue athletics director, said the new tennis facility helps Purdue take a major step toward placing itself among the nation's elite intercollegiate athletics programs.
"We want our student-athletes to compete at the highest level on the field and in the classroom," Burke said. "For them to do so, we need to provide them the tools to make it happen."
Schwartz, a retired banking executive from Mishawaka, Ind., graduated from Purdue in 1963 with a bachelor's degree in industrial engineering. He said this is an ideal gift since his wife, who passed away in February, was an avid tennis player.
"In my days at Purdue, my wife adopted Purdue and was very involved," Schwartz said. "Her real love was for tennis. She played tennis several times a week and competed with a South Bend travel team. When I heard this was on the Purdue wish list, I thought the center would provide a lasting memory of these two things that had so much meaning in her life."
That love of Purdue, he said, also was passed down to their son, Jim Schwartz, who lives with his wife, Julie, and two children in Granger, Ind. He also is expected to attend the announcement. Jim Schwartz graduated from Purdue in 1988 with a business administration and management degree.
Purdue men's tennis coach Tim Madden said the generosity of the Schwartz family will please tennis players both on and off campus.
"I think they understand that it makes a difference in the lives of those who have a passion for our sport," Madden said. "The most significant impact may be on the number of people touched by this gift. The plan is to have the facility support tennis for students, faculty, staff and the community. This will allow many people who don't have the opportunity right now to play year round."
Purdue women's tennis coach Mat Iandolo said the center will provide a big boost to the Purdue tennis program.
"For several years now, we've been a very good tennis program," Iandolo said. "We see this facility as the final piece in order to establish ourselves as consistently one of the best tennis programs in the Midwest. Our student-athletes will have added confidence because they can work out in a first-class facility. It is the final piece of the puzzle."
A campaign for the remainder of the funds necessary to build the center will begin in 2003. Construction, which will take an estimated one year to complete, would begin in 2004. The facility will be open to the community when the tennis teams are not practicing.
Today's celebration was part of Discover Purdue Week, during which the university will unveil its fund-raising campaign. Events and festivities will include homecoming, groundbreakings, Bill Cosby's campus show and Boilermaker football.
Writer: Marydell Forbes, (765) 496-7704, firstname.lastname@example.org
Sources: Martin C. Jischke, (765) 494-9708
Greg Christopher, director of athletic development, (765) 494-3965, email@example.com
Tim Madden, (765) 494-1647, firstname.lastname@example.org
Mat Iandolo, (765) 494-7783
Morgan Burke, (765) 494-3189, email@example.com
A publication-quality image is available at ftp://ftp.purdue.edu/pub/uns/christopher.tennis.jpeg.
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