By Alice Phillips
Harvard-Westlake is funding a $1 million project to construct eight lighted tennis courts on land the school is leasing on the Los Angeles Valley College campus. Construction will begin this fall.
“Iâll be hiring the team I want and supervising the project from start to finish,” Director of Campus Operations James De MattÃ© said.
The tennis teams currently practice at Studio City Golf and Tennis; however, the courts are threatened because the land may be converted into a planned development. In response, De MattÃ© and his team began investigating a more secure court situation in the form of a 30 year lease and a possible 10 year extension with Valley College, with whom the school has long had a mutually beneficial relationship, Head of Tennis Christopher Simpson said.
“This is one of the few times when we have a threat to our programs and we have to respond,” Chief Financial Officer Robert Levin said. “We had an opportunity to get long-term access at Valley College, which was approved by the [Harvard-Westlake] Building and Grounds committee and the Board of Trustees.”
“Rule number one is we donât build anything unless itâs either paid for in full or we have a pledge,” Levin said. “Rule number zero is we are committed to our programs, be it academics, athletics, performing arts, etc. Normally we ask: what can we afford to do? But there are also times when we ask: what canât we afford to not do?”
Christine Hazy, the Chairman of the Board of Trustees, said that the need for new tennis courts has been on the table in board meetings for several years.
“Advancement was in the middle of a huge fundraising campaign [for the middle school renovation] so finding money for a tennis court was difficult,” Hazy said. “When funding from tennis alumni and parents of tennis players didnât pan out, we realized we could use the reserve funding.”
“You canât run a tennis program without a competition space,” Vice President John Amato said. “If we didnât make an attempt to get courts, [kids in the tennis program] would be disadvantaged.”
“Weâve been able to have the success that weâve had without any home court advantage,” Simpson said. “Hopefully people will come out and support us and