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Lead Alumni Gift Initiates Renovation to CWU Tennis Facility

University Advancement today announced a significant gift to the CWU Foundation that will help fund a total renovation of the Central Washington University tennis courts. It is one of the first gifts in recent history that will initiate a capital project at Central. The gift, from the children of a former Central mathematics professor, will create the “Fred and Valerie Lister Tennis Facility.”

Fred Lister taught at Central from 1968 until his retirement in 1988. He was an acknowledged tennis fan both as a player and spectator. He died in 2012. His wife, Valerie, was known for her artistic talent and her involvement in local civic-oriented organizations. She took up tennis when she was in her 50s, and enjoyed commercial art classes at Central. She passed away in 2009.

Two of their three children, Russ Lister, from Everett, and Anne Perry, from Bow, are CWU alumni who played tennis for Ellensburg High School and Central during the late 1970s and early 1980s. Another son, Jim Lister, also played tennis at Ellensburg High School in the 1980s.  He now lives in Richmond, Virginia.

“My dad was fanatical about tennis, and he got us playing as kids in Ellensburg in the 1970s. I have good memories of that time,” recalls Russ, who earned his bachelor of science in mathematics in 1983. “This seemed like a way to give back to the community that was good for me but especially for my mom and dad. If they were around, I think they would think it’s a great idea.”

Anne adds, “After Dad passed away last year we were thinking of using some of the proceeds from the estate to benefit the Ellensburg community and leave a legacy in honor of our mom and dad.  Russ and I had noticed that many of the local tennis courts were in terrible shape. To us, there seemed to be a huge community need, so this seemed like a good fit.” Anne received her bachelor of science in biology from Central in 1981.

Design work is now underway on the new facility, which is adjacent to Nicholson Pavilion. The current outdoor courts were first opened in 1961, the same year Central Washington College of Education became Central Washington State College. Over the past half-century, they’ve been subject to surface cracking because the underlying foundation is giving way, requiring frequent repair and patching with cement.

The new courts will have an acrylic finish layer, to provide a vibrant color, which is approved by the United States Tennis Association (USTA). And, the courts will be lighted, allowing for nighttime use. The facility will also feature new fencing and gates, improved drainage, movable bleachers, practice boards, and competitor benches. The outside of the courts will also be revamped and will include accessible walkways and improved viewing areas. 

The total cost is estimated at about $950,000 dollars. Other project funding will come from CWU capital preservation money, University Recreation, and additional support from the university’s Services and Activities fees. A USTA grant is also being sought. Construction will begin in August and should be completed in September.  

“There are already several users of this facility,” says Andy Fields, CWU recreation director. “The Physical Education, School and Public Health academic department, our tennis sport club, intramurals, Central students and Ellensburg community members, and the high school even brings over some students as well. This is a great collaborative effort that will be a win-win for everybody.”

Following the phased-remodeling and renovation of Nicholson Pavilion, this will be the second project in a proposed revitalization of CWU’s athletic facilities.

“There are several projects being suggested that would further improve our student-athlete experience, be better for fans, and offer more and enhanced recreational opportunities for all Central students,” says Dennis Francois, CWU athletic director. “We’re very appreciative of this donation that’s allowing this renovation to move ahead.”  

Media contact: Robert Lowery, CWU Public Affairs, 509-963-1487, loweryr@cwu.edu

June 27, 2013

Photo: Members of the school's tennis team on the Central tennis courts when they were first opened in 1961.