Columbia and Missouri athletics preparing for 2014 SEC Tennis Championships

Monday, August 5, 2013 | 6:17 p.m. CDT; updated 9:10 a.m. CDT, Tuesday, August 6, 2013

COLUMBIA — Preparations are in progress ahead of Missouri's role as host of the 2014 SEC Women's Tennis Championships.

Renovations for the championship tournament in April have cost Missouri athletics and the city of Columbia about $4 million.  

Missouri was approached by representatives of the Southeastern Conference in the spring about hosting the event. The championships are held alphabetically by school, and when Missouri switched to the Southeastern Conference in 2011, the tennis team was given a list of where the championships would be held in the upcoming years, women's tennis coach Sasha Schmid said. 

"To be here when it is your turn to host is very exciting," Schmid said. "You just take advantage of the opportunity when it is your turn."

Including Missouri, 14 teams will compete April 16-20 at the outdoor courts at the Mizzou Tennis Complex for the matches and use 12 courts at Cosmo-Bethel Park for warming up.

Green Tennis Court renovations 

During the spring, renovations at the Green Tennis Center at the Mizzou Tennis Complex, 2001 S. Providence Road, were completed on its six outdoor courts.

"Oil inside the sheathing of the post-tensioning cables leaked and rose to the surface of the courts during periods of extremely hot temperatures," said Karlan Seville, campus facilities communications manager. "The sheathing was inadvertently damaged during the placement of the concrete. The courts were re-poured, and this work was fully covered under warranty work."

While renovation of the courts was planned before Missouri moved to the SEC, the timing worked out nicely, said Chad Moller, an associate athletics director at MU.

MU Campus Recreation Facilities provided one-third of the $900,000 cost while the remaining two-thirds were raised through donations, Moller said.

Last season, the Missouri women's team traveled to the Dwight Davis Tennis Center in St. Louis for its outdoor matches while construction was underway.

Cosmo-Bethel Tennis Courtrenovations

City-owned tennis courts at Cosmo-Bethel Park were also recently renovated so they can be used during the championship to accommodate all 14 teams. Located about five minutes away from the Mizzou Tennis Complex, the 12 courts at Cosmo-Bethel will allow players to warm up and practice before matches.

While the Parks and Recreation Department had planned to resurface the courts, once the MU athletics department approached the city about the tournament, parks and recreation set a date to finish the renovations sooner rather than later.

The renovations were finished July 25 in time for the Show-Me State Games tennis matches the following weekend, said Ryan Atkinson, engineering aide for the Parks and Recreation Department. The $54,000 project received $18,000 in funding from Columbia Public Schools and $36,000 from a 0.25 percent park sales tax.

Albert-Oakland Park's tennis courts were renovated at the same time as Cosmo-Bethel's at a cost of $18,000 but will not be used during the SEC tournament. 

Building the Mizzou Tennis Complex

Locker rooms, elevated seating and training facilities are some of the new features in the Mizzou Tennis Complex, which is scheduled to open Feb. 28, Schmid said.

The $3 million project is funded through the athletics department, said Kate Lakin, tennis team spokeswoman.

"The new tennis complex is really just a great step toward the improvement of the Mizzou tennis program," team member Elisha Gabb said in an email. "I think it will help the atmosphere, as it will be an amazing complex, and it will insure that all the teams are comfortable."

The championships

Last season, the women's team was defeated by Mississippi State in the first round of the 2013 SEC Tennis Championships.

"The team is very excited and even more motivated to showcase in front of a home crowd," Schmid said.

The women's tennis team is preparing vigorously in light of the upcoming championships. 

"We were all extremely excited when we found out we would be hosting the 2014 SEC tournament," Gabb said. "I think it’s a motivation for the team, as it gives us something to really look forward to and work toward. We certainly feel like if we are holding this tournament we want be able to compete in it for a long as possible, which gives us that daily drive to work extremely hard."

Supervising editor is Zachary Matson.

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