Los Angeles, CA – California State University, Los Angeles will break ground on the future site of the Rosie Casals/Pancho Gonzalez Tennis Center at the Billie Jean King Sports Complex on May 6, from 10 a.m. to noon. This is one of several events to mark the investiture of William A. Covino as Cal State L.A.’s seventh president.
The 7,000-foot-center is named in honor of tennis legends Rosie Casals and Richard “Pancho” Gonzalez.
“Not only are we privileged to recognize tennis legends Rosie Casals and Pancho Gonzalez, we are thrilled to be working once again with one of the university’s greatest friends and allies, Billie Jean King,” said Cal State L.A. President William A. Covino. “Over the past 10 years, the university has experienced a beautiful architectural revitalization, and while Rosie Casals/Pancho Gonzalez Tennis Center will provide much needed athletic facilities for our athletes and staff, it will also greatly enhance the look of the Billie Jean King Sports Complex and become the latest striking contemporary structure on campus.”
Joining Casals and Billie Jean King at the groundbreaking ceremony will be President Covino, Cal State L.A.’s Director of Athletics Dan Bridges, and Tennis Hall of Famer Pam Shriver, who has been greatly involved in the Billie Jean King and Friends Event fundraiser that benefits the university’s Athletics Department. Pancho Gonzalez’s family members and representatives of the Pancho Gonzalez Youth Foundation will also be on hand for the festivities.
“I am very excited about the new tennis center,” said Bridges. “It will serve as a fitting home for our nationally-ranked tennis program and provide us a facility that is ideally suited for hosting a variety community engagement and youth sports activities.”
In addition to hosting numerous collegiate and public-access activities each year, the center will be home to various community organizations dedicated to youth sports and education.
Casals, a pioneer of women’s tennis, worked alongside King and others in the late ’60s and ’70s to fight discrimination in the sport. She was inducted into the International Tennis Hall of Fame in 1996 and has been involved with Cal State L.A. and its athletics program for the past 15 years.
Gonzalez, considered one of the greatest players of all-time, was inducted into the International Tennis Hall of Fame in 1968 at the age of 40—the first and only player to be inducted while still active in the sport.
The proposed tennis building consists of two floors. The first floor will include the locker rooms, the training facilities, coaches’ offices and a concessions kiosk. The second will include indoor and outdoor viewing areas not only for tennis matches, but also for soccer and track and field competitions. There will also be meeting rooms, an activities and learning center and a full kitchen to accommodate hospitality and special events.
The tennis center is the first project in a plan to upgrade all the facilities in the 11-acre Billie Jean King Sports Complex at Cal State L.A., which was named in honor of King in fall 2010. King—who attended Cal State L.A. from 1961 to 1964—was inducted into Cal State L.A.’s Athletics Hall of Fame in 1986, and was awarded an honorary doctorate by the CSU system at the university’s Commencement ceremony in 1997. In August 2009, President Barack Obama presented her the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the highest honor the United States government bestows upon a civilian.
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