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Tomar tennis complex impresses in debut event

Nate Wek
South Dakota Public Broadcasting

Tomar Park in Sioux Falls debuted its new tennis courts this past week as the venue played host to both the ‘A’ and ‘AA’ boys state tennis tournaments. The GreatLife Care Foundation Tennis Complex offers plenty of modern day amenities that will prove to be an upgrade for both the tennis athletes and spectators in the Sioux Empire.

“This is very exciting. We’ve had this in our brain for a few years and it took a long year and a half to fundraise, but a twelve-court facility is really going to be a game changer for the public schools, our South Dakota Open, and just league play and lessons for our community and surrounding areas as well,” said Lydia Healy, project leader with the Sioux Falls Tennis Association.

Having twelve courts in one spot is a massive upgrade for Sioux Falls. McKennan Park, which played host as the primary location for previous state tennis tournaments being hosted in the city, has eight courts.

“This way parents aren’t split between two facilities,” explained Healy. “They can coach all their kids at the same place at the same time, and it just brings the teams together to cheer everyone on.”

The new courts at Tomar Park also improve the experience for the spectators. The concourses are bigger, fans are able to see over the fences on the spectator side, and there’s shade structures to protect the fans from the elements as well.

“We have these great sunshade structures. We’ll have outlets, we’ll have large fans going on, misters. We have water fountains, puppy fountains, and it’s just a lot more upgrades for the heat of the summer,” said Healy. “A 32-foot-wide concourse is really amazing, and all of the bleachers can fit under these shade structures, and you can watch both sides of the action. Plus, down the center concourse, you have pony walls, so you have unobstructed views of the players.”

So far, $3 million in donations have been put into the new project. But there’s still more to come. Healy and company are still raising funds for the addition of electronic scoreboards on the courts, and live stream capabilities. But despite all these upgrades, it’s also the goal to keep a traditional feel with the park.

“We wanted this to be the ‘old park’ where you came with picnics,” Healy explained. “You rode your bikes, had a little picnic, played some tennis. I wouldn’t mind some art installations out here to get in one some of that, but I want the kids and parents to all come together out here.”

Sioux Park in Rapid City, which is also a twelve-court facility, is currently being renovated too, which will improve the experience for the athletes and spectators on the western side of the state as well. Currently, Rapid City and Sioux Falls are the two host cities for state high school tennis tournaments in South Dakota. Both new facilities will give athletes premium venues for their championship events.

Nate Wek is currently the sports content producer and sports and rec beat reporter for South Dakota Public Broadcasting. He is a graduate of South Dakota State University with a Bachelor of Science degree in Journalism Broadcasting and a minor in Leadership. From 2010-2013 Nate was the Director of Gameday Media for the Sioux Falls Storm (Indoor Football League) football team. He also spent 2012 and 2013 as the News and Sports Director of KSDJ Radio in Brookings, SD. Nate, his wife Sarah, and two kids Braxan and Jordy, live in Canton, SD.