With the swish of a ball crossing the net, Heathwood’s new Averyt Tennis Center was officially christened on September 25, 2017 by varsity players Caroline Bunch, Ruth Dibble, Samantha Gaton, Olivia Hampton, Isabelle Lord, and Daisy McLeod, all members of the Class of 2018.
The courts are the culmination of almost two years of work by many members of the Heathwood community. Spearheaded by alumnus and current parent Wade Mullins, ’86, a committee which also included alum Brett Caldwell, ’86, alum and current parent Mills James, ’90, alum and current parent Dale Roberts, ’90, past parent and past tennis coach Sarah Roth, and current parent Seth Rose was instrumental in raising funds to demolish the old courts and replace them with a state-of-the-art facility that includes six new courts and a roomy tennis pavilion. Volunteer Committee Chair Wade Mullins worked closely with Director of Development Erin Pope and Head of School Chris Hinchey to see the project to fruition.
Having courts on campus makes a tremendous difference to the players’ experience, said Mullins, who was himself a member of Heathwood’s tennis team when the school’s original courts opened in 1984. After 30 years of use, those courts had fallen into disrepair and the teams were practicing and playing at the Cayce Tennis Center. “I can’t really describe to you the difference when you’re able to play on campus,” Mullins said. “It really improves team pride.”
In addition to a lead gift from the Averyt and Lord families, courts were donated by Ethel and Bill Bunch, Brett Caldwell, Elizabeth Richmond Tuller McElveen, Will and Nikki Merritt, Katie, Wade, Andrea and Ed Mullins, and the Wolfe/Postic Family. The Highlander Club provided generous support as well, as did a number of additional Heathwood families. Signature Tennis, Buchanan Construction, Snipes Electric, Hoover Buildings, and Stone Interiors also made instrumental contributions to the project. The lead donors for the original courts, the McCardle family, were also honored at the opening ceremony for the new courts.
The tennis center is one of a number of projects former Heathwood parents and current grandparents Peg and Gayle Averyt have supported over the years. Most notably, the Averyt Early Childhood Center is named in their honor because of the lead gift they made to the building fund.
The support of donors like the Averyts and the other families who contributed to the tennis center has long been instrumental to Heathwood’s growth and success, said Head of School Chris Hinchey. “I am continually impressed with the generosity of new and long-time Heathwood families. It was amazing to watch the HHES tennis community rise to the challenge and help construct a beautiful tennis facility that gets our student-athletes back on campus.”
After the opening ceremony, the varsity team took to the courts for a match against A.C. Flora. It was their first time playing on campus in several years. Seeing tennis happening at Heathwood again made the whole project more than worthwhile, said Hinchey, who noted that, “To quote Dorothy, ‘There’s no place like home.’”