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Greater Ashland Tennis Association

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About Us
In December of 1952, Georgia and Paul Garrett Blazer established the Stuart Blazer Foundation in memory of their son who had been killed in action in Korea two months previously. From that point in time, Paul Blazer quietly and often anonymously began developing recreational, educational, religious, and cultural programs both in Ashland and throughout Kentucky.

Operating from the philosophy that programs should be developed which would be equally beneficial to all members of the community, Mr. Blazer used his creative imagination to turn his many humanitarian interests into organized activities that were available to persons of all social and economic levels. His most noted recreational endeavors in the Ashland area include a gift of a swimming facility to the Paul G. Blazer High School, development of the high school parking lot into one of the finest track and recreational facilities in the Eastern Kentucky area, and the organization of free baseball, football, basketball, and track clinics for Ashland’s youth.

Following Mr. Blazer’s death in 1966, Mrs. Blazer and the Blazer family continued to keep alive and expand the ideology which had permeated Mr. Blazer’s thoughts during his lifetime. In the Spring of 1972, the officers of the Stuart Blazer Foundation began planning for the development of the Ashland Tennis Center. Shortly thereafter, a committee was formed and plans for the new site were formulated. Utilizing over $400,000 donated by the Blazer Foundation, the Ashland Tennis Center was opened in the Summer of 1974 on property provided through an agreement with the Ashland Board of Education, Ashland Community College and the City of Ashland. The tennis center is directed by a seven member Ashland Tennis Commission which is appointed by the Mayor. The tennis center was to be a public municipal tennis facility with no membership fees and nominal court fees for its patrons. Juniors would play free on the outdoor courts and can use the indoor courts for free when they are not in use by paying customers. The tennis center was a gift to the city with the understanding that it must be self-supported as no tax dollars would be given for its operation from the City of Ashland or the State of Kentucky. The tennis center operates and relies on revenues generated form lessons, clinics, court time rentals, pro shop sales and individual donations.

Originally the tennis center sported sixteen Plexi-paved courts. Today the tennis center is a year round facility with four indoor and eleven outdoor tennis courts, a practice wall and model clubhouse with locker room facilities and a Pro Shop. Night play is also available as six courts have tournament quality lighting.

In 1997 The Ashland Tennis Commission approved a massive renovation project to rebuild ten of the eleven outdoor courts. At the same time new tournament quality lighting was installed on six courts. Previously only three courts were lit for night time play. The total cost of the renovation exceeded $600,000.00. In 2004 a new lighting and reflective ceiling system were installed on the four indoor tennis courts. The old lights were over 30 years old and provided inadequate lighting. This renovation cost $225,000.00.

Because of these improvements many state championships such as the KY USTA Senior League and KY USTA Mixed Doubles League have been hosted by the center. In recent years we have also hosted a $25,000 and $50,000 USTA Women’s Challenger Tournament. Being able to host such events is very important to the City of Ashland as they have a tremendous economic impact on area businesses.

As promised the tennis center has been a catalyst for promoting the type of tennis that Paul Blazer would have envisioned. The Ashland Tennis Center provides comprehensive learning, recreational, and competitive experiences for all Ashland Area Youth. Who is to say but there may be another Rod Laver, Arthur Ashe or Billie Jean King in the Ashland area waiting to be discovered? The Stuart Blazer Foundation, through the Ashland Tennis Center, is providing an opportunity for such talent to be recognized. And, at the same time it is providing an outlet of wholesome recreation for all the area’s population, young and old!

 

Members of the Ashland Tennis Commission

Danni Phelps-Chairman

Sandra Overstreet

Bennie Shields

Preston Freeman

Joe Frye

Chris Clarke

Clay Hill

 

 
 
 
 
 
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