Billie Jean King letter to Anchorage Daily News

November 1, 2013

When I first heard the Alaska Legislature had approved a proposal from the Alaska Tennis Association to fund the construction of a multi-sports public recreation facility that would include six indoor tennis courts and two basketball courts that can be adapted for volleyball and badminton, I thought now this is a community with a vision.

In a community with more than 11,000 active tennis players – many of whom try and get on the court as much as they can in a very short outdoor tennis season – the addition of a public indoor, year-round tennis facility is a smart move. But, I understand there is some opposition to the project and I hope you will hear me out on why I think this public indoor recreational facility will be an incredibly positive addition to your community.

I am a public park player and having access to public courts and free instruction absolutely changed my life.  Tennis has given me so much.  If you build this new indoor facility on the Dempsey Anderson Ice Arena campus, you will make a meaningful difference in the lives of your citizens – young and old – through tennis and increased physical activity.

I am a big believer that tennis is a lifetime sport and at 69 years old, I know what a powerful motivator tennis has been in my life. In communities all across the country from my hometown in Long Beach, California, to Springfield, Missouri to Lancaster, Pennsylvania, I have seen how tennis brings people together for exercise and for socialization.   This lifetime sport has spawned generations of physically active, socially interactive communities.  And there is no reason Anchorage should not become one of those communities.

Through presentations to the legislature and community councils,the Alaska Tennis Association has been transparent about its plans for this new facility and at the heart of this proposal is a public facility that will provide low-cost instruction, affordable court time for both adults and children and do so on a year-round, non-interrupted basis.

There are a dozen schools within the Anchorage School District located within a two-mile radius of the location of this proposed facility.  It is not a far stretch of one’s imagination to look at the opportunities for keeping the kids from those schools more active if they had a place nearby to go play tennis, basketball and volleyball after school. 

Building this facility is not about creating an opportunity for the next Roger Federer or Serena Williams – although wouldn’t it be great if that happened!  It is about providing low-cost access to a public recreation center facility for your community that will allow your citizens to get active and stay healthy. At a time when obesity rates among our youth are at staggering high levels this project is a major step in the right direction.

This is about creating long-term opportunities for your community to be better and stronger.  Thanks to the grant from the Alaska State Legislature the money is in place and now I hope you, the Assembly and the entire community, will step up and support this project.  You have the opportunity to use your vision to significantly improve the enjoyment and well-being of the people in your community. 

Tennis is a big part of my life and it has given me a platform to bring about change in my career and in my community.  I don’t what my life would have been without tennis.  It’s a game changer. I hope Anchorage will come together and support the development of the public indoor multi-sport recreation facility at Dempsey.

Billie Jean King

Billie Jean King won 39 Grand Slam singles, doubles and mixed doubles tennis titles, including a record 20 championships at Wimbledon.  She is a recipient of the Presidential Medal of Freedom, our nation’s highest civilian honor, and a member of the President’s Council on Fitness, Sports and Nutrition.

Grant Letter from JOHN HENDRICKSON



November 16, 2013 ANCHORAGE, AK--FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: The Alaska Tennis Association (ATA) is delighted to share they’ve received a $100,000 grant from former Anchorage tennis player, John Hendrickson. The grant is in honor of the late Cathy Tracy who did so much to promote tennis in Alaska for so many years.

“Tennis has given me a great life. Growing up, I was fortunate to receive instruction, and be a member of the private tennis clubs in Anchorage. Many others were not so fortunate. I would like to underwrite a program through the ATA. I pledge $100,000 for the ATA to create a program to give free clinics and lessons to those who can’t afford instruction, toddlers, beginners and the handicapped community,” said John Hendrickson, in a letter addressed to the ATA on November 14, 2013. The grant also requires the ATA to reach out to minority and at-risk children, and expand its mentoring program. Hendrickson is a businessman and philanthropist, living in Saratoga Springs, New York. He also retains a home in Alaska.

USTA Pacific Northwest Board Member and long-time Anchorage tennis player Bill Bittner said “This is fantastic news. We’ve worked hard to make tennis in Alaska better. The ATA has helped resurface many outdoor courts in Anchorage and this year we secured a state grant to build a new recreation center and the first indoor public courts in Alaska. Now, with Mr. Hendrickson’s support, we’re closer than ever to making tennis affordable to all income levels.”

Allen Clendaniel said “This organization supports players of all ages and abilities. We want to share our love of physical fitness and passion for tennis with as many people as possible. Mr. Hendrickson has given Alaska a tremendous opportunity to introduce tennis to all of Anchorage.” Allen learned to play tennis at the Delaney Park Strip courts when he was 15. He and his wife Zareena share their passion for tennis by volunteering with the ATA Quick Start Youth Tennis Program for children ages 5-12.

The Alaska Tennis Association is dedicated to promoting the sport of tennis in Anchorage and Alaska. It is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization completely run by volunteers. In the last 3-1/2 years, the ATA has introduced over 1,300 kids to the sport of tennis through low cost, high-energy tennis programs.



Planning is in the works!  The ATA is partnering with Anchorage to help explore different designs and rough estimates are being requested to determine the need for extra funding.  

The ATA will provide updates as we receive more information.  

Below are articles and information that have been published on the project.  


Alaska Tennis Association

Donate to the Public

Indoor Court fund

The USTA and First Lady Michelle Obama's

"Let's Move!" campaign have teamed up to encourage young people across the country to get active,

try tennis and lead healthy lifestyles.


"It's important for kids to get the hour of active play they need every day, and there are so many fun things that each of us can do to be healthier," said First Lady Michelle Obama. "Thanks to programs like the USTA's 10 and Under Tennis initiative, it's easier than ever for kids to get active and have fun. And that's a big part of what we're doing with Let's Move!, America's campaign to raise a healthier generation of kids."

Explore the exciting game of tennis