The tennis court James West played as a child was cracked, poorly lit, and surrounded by a rusty fence.
The Querbes tennis court was not as West remembered when he was 13, sliding a large broom back and forth across the 78-foot-long surface.
West’s older brother was the night manager of the tennis club. At the end of the day, when the pitch was empty, West took over his brother’s fencing duties and set the stage for the players to face off the next day. His brother, now a stock analyst, was in high school and his mother wanted him to come home to study.
West left Shreveport at 35 and became a real estate manager for the Chico’s clothing chain. He returned to Shreveport four years ago and saw Querbes Park beaten and neglected.
“It broke my heart,” West said.
The tennis court opened in 1965 and hosted the city and state championships. After years without maintenance, sanctioning bodies would not allow the tennis association to use the courts.
West channeled his nostalgia into a project. Three years ago, he launched the Querbes Park Foundation and signed an agreement with the town of Shreveport to revitalize Querbes. The Querbes Park Foundation agreed to donate $ 250,000 if the city matched this amount to renovate the tennis court. City council voted to help with the renovations on December 11.
The project went to a public tender and Winn Construction, Inc. won the project with the lowest compliant bid.
Shreveport Parks and Recreation Department Director Shelly Ragle said the project is a great example of a public-private partnership.
The foundation has raised $ 150,000 so far through grants from the United States Tennis Association, Caddo Parish and other organizations.
The Northwest Louisiana Community Tennis Association also made a donation and became an active collaborator on the project, helping with fundraising.
The Querbes court will be closed for renovations until January 2020. The Querbes Park Foundation and the community tennis association are hosting a fundraising dinner on May 7 to raise the remaining $ 150,000 to pay for the renovations. Tickets cost $ 100 each or tables of eight for $ 700. People can register for dinner or donate to fundraising at www.nwlacta.com.