LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- The clay tennis courts at Chickasaw Park were in danger of shutting down, but all of that changed when the community stepped up.
The courts almost didn't open up at all this year. They needed more clay, but because of the city's budget shortfall, it looked like that wasn't going to happen.
Then the West Louisville Tennis Club, Louisville Olmsted Parks and others started a fundraising campaign. The goal was $5,000, but the campaign far surpassed that, raising nearly $12,000 for the tennis courts.
The courts are considered a local treasure, because there are very few courts in the nation that are free and open to the public.
"In the morning after the courts have been watered, there's just a beautiful gleam to the courts early in the morning," said Donnie Morris, the West Louisville Tennis Club Director of Youth Programming. "The birds are singing and then that first ball that struck…it's just something that's unimaginable."
People who frequent the area say they're happy the courts are back open -- and waiting for eager players.
"To be where we are now is an absolute blessing and I'm ecstatic," said Dr. Aretha Fuqua, president of the West Louisville Tennis Club.
"We got the word out and people were overwhelming with their gifts," Morris added.
The money was used on 300 bags of new clay. It was also used to fix a major crack on the hard courts -- and the remaining money will be used on a brand new hitting wall.
The repairs were needed before the Arthur Lloyd Johnson Memorial tournament, where 100 teams are expected to play from June 20-23.
"People come from all over the region. They come from Tennessee, Ohio and from Lexington," Fuqua said.
But this coming together for one cause is more than just tennis: it's also about friendships.
"I still like to come down here. I try to play but I got arthritis, I just don't have it anymore," said Dr. George White who remembers winning many games on the Chickasaw Park courts.
"[We] have a good time, we laugh at each other as much as ourselves, so it's just one wonderful time of fellowshipping on the tennis courts," Morris said.
The West Louisville Tennis Club also offers free tennis lessons for all ages starting Thursday, June 13, at 6 p.m. For more information on the tennis club, click here.
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