Grant pledges to fund programming for new Anchorage tennis facility

Devin Kelly

The Alaska Tennis Association announced Friday a $100,000 grant to provide free tennis instruction to Anchorage's underprivileged communities, pending Assembly approval of a controversial proposal to build a new indoor tennis facility.

The donor is John Hendrickson, a former Anchorage resident and state tennis champion. In a letter to the association, Hendrickson said he wants to make tennis more affordable and accessible.

Hendrickson has actively lobbied on behalf of the Turnagain neighborhood facility, enlisting the help of tennis celebrities such as Venus and Serena Williams.

"I understand there is great controversy amongst the Anchorage Assembly regarding the funding of this project, and I apologize if I have negatively contributed to the dialogue," Hendrickson said in a letter to the Alaska Tennis Association.

Hendrickson's grant would establish a program to offer free lessons seven days a week to low-income and handicapped members of the community, and young children. The program, named after the late Alaskan tennis pro Cathy Tracy, would also "reach out to minority and at-risk children" and set up a mentoring program, Hendrickson said.

Assemblyman Dick Traini, reached by phone Friday afternoon, said he hadn't heard about the donation. He also said it wouldn't affect his opposition to the project.

"I would anticipate somebody in favor of tennis would donate the same amount of money no matter where it goes," Traini said.

The Assembly is scheduled to consider funding for the facility on Tuesday.

Reach Devin Kelly at or 257-4314.