With seven immaculate indoor courts and six lighted outdoor courts, the new Denver Tennis Park (DTP) has the capacity to handle two NCAA Division I tennis teams, a host of high school athletes, development programs for young people and members of the public.
On a Tuesday evening in June, however, it didn’t seem big enough to contain the excitement surrounding its official inauguration.
University of Denver Chancellor Rebecca Chopp praised the coalition for bringing to fruition the region’s only youth-focused indoor and outdoor tennis facility, owned and operated by Denver Tennis Park, Inc. ., a new non-profit organization dedicated to young people. In addition to a ground lease from Denver Public Schools and grants from local philanthropic foundations and individuals, two DU-related donors financially supported the building which now provides home courts for the Denver men’s and women’s tennis teams. ‘university.
Alumni Catherine “Cappy” Shopneck (BFA ’76, MBA ’80) and husband Robert (MA ’73, JD ’76) donated $1 million, as did Honorary Lifetime Trustee Jane Hamilton who is a parent and grandparent of DU graduates.
“It’s phenomenal,” Chopp said, scanning the packed bleachers in front of her as she delivered her remarks. “It was a win-win-win [building the DTP]. This has benefited our students, DPS and of course the community. And that is what we will have to do more and more in the future.
The DTP opened just six months ago, but has already served over 1,000 children and 1,200 adults. According to Julie Bock, Acting Director and Executive Director of the DTP, the facility has, to date, provided more than 100,000 youth contact hours through its programming.
Twelve high school tennis teams have gained valuable access to the courts this season, especially in inclement weather. And for programs in difficulty, the DTP provided instruction and coaching. Meanwhile, other DPS students have increased their physical literacy and fitness opportunities as part of the DTP’s mission to integrate sport into the lives of young people. The DTP has helped integrate tennis into physical education classes and after-school programs. Additionally, students who wish to learn the game outside of school can do so at little or no cost.
Members of the public can also rent courts. Ten percent of each hourly rate is dedicated to the DTP’s mission to serve children of all abilities, both onsite and offsite.
“It was a great and unprecedented collaboration,” Bock said. “It’s really important to pause and remember that we all came together for this, and that’s what will take us forward.”
DPS Superintendent Susana Cordova (BA ’88), a DU alumnus, also praised the $14 million project.
“At Denver Public Schools, we seek to create opportunity and access so that all children can achieve high standards,” she said. “Access to a facility like this is really an example of what that means. For our students to be able to play in a place like this, to bring tennis to kids who may not have had the opportunity to be exposed to it, we are so, so looking forward to it.
For Cappy Shopneck, an avid tennis player and administrator who is part of the DU Tennis Hall of Fame, the project was an opportunity to unite the sport she loves with the school and community she loves. She and her husband were among dozens who struck a ceremonial “first service” to officially dedicate the DTP.
“It’s the most beautiful indoor facility I’ve ever been in,” she said. “I’ve always loved and been inspired by the concept of collaborative nature that made this installation possible. I couldn’t be happier for DU students. I couldn’t be happier for this community.
DU tennis teams finally have a central location for training and matches instead of traveling to local clubs in the area. So it’s perhaps no coincidence that both the men’s and women’s teams have played nearly flawless tennis in their home games this season, going 18-2 combined.
Seniors Ignatius Castelino and Bianca Mok say having indoor courts within walking distance makes life more convenient as a student-athlete and has certainly played a role in this season’s success.
“Being closer to campus helps us attract a bigger crowd,” Castelino said. “I think it helps, especially with more difficult teams. I think we are still fired up to play at home.
And both athletes relish the opportunity to share space with other players in the Denver community.
Said Mok: “Sometimes people come off the pitch just before us and they watch us practice, and when we’re done they tell us how much they really enjoy watching us. And it’s good to be an inspiration to the younger generation and to know that while you practice, people are inspired by your daily activities.