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Lorenzi Park Awarded Outstanding Tennis Facility by the US Tennis Association

Wade Vandervort

Members of No Quit Tennis Academy practice at Lorenzi Park Monday, Sept. 18, 2023. The park is the recipient of the 2023 Outstanding Tennis Facility Award from the United States Tennis Association.

Trent Alenik starts listing accomplishments of the Las Vegas tennis players who call the facility at Lorenzi Park home.

There’s been numerous college scholarships earned at the 10-court complex on Washington Avenue near Rancho Drive, top-ranked junior players developed, and future professionals who found their passion for the sport.

But, Alenik stresses, almost stopping midsentence, developing champion players isn’t the sole purpose of the Inspiring Children Foundation, a United States Tennis Association national junior tennis and learning chapter housed at Lorenzi.

Rather, it’s about developing quality members of the Las Vegas community.

What’s going on at Lorenzi is being celebrated nationally, with the tennis association this month honoring the complex in its Outstanding Facility Awards program at the U.S. Open.

The local park was one of 29 facilities pegged for recognition, with Alenik traveling to New York to receive the award during the tournament.

“The coolest thing is getting to have a hand in shaping a young person’s life,” said Alenik, the foundation’s executive director. “It’s about giving them the tools, principles and environment to blossom into the best version of themselves.”

The foundation was started by Marty Hennessy and Ryan Wolfington, and has had notable backers such as the singer Jewel and boxing champion Mike Tyson.

It helps develop life skills through tennis to aid in character development, discipline and work ethic. Many of the children come from low-income and underserved communities, officials said.

There are about 300 participants of all ages in the foundation, most of whom are part of the No Quit Tennis Academy for their training.

Some are from challenging backgrounds, meaning racquets, gear, training, travel and mentoring are provided. The foundation won’t turn anyone away. Including recreational camps for neighborhood children, the park services about 2,500 children annually, Alenik said.

“Lorenzi Park is a beautiful regional facility that offers so much to our community,” said Sandra Foley, a recreation supervisor for the City of Las Vegas, in a statement to the Sun. “We are honored to have the USTA recognize the tennis courts at Lorenzi that are well-used by the community.”

The foundation has been housed at Lorenzi since 2009, developing 10 juniors who earned a No. 1 ranking, five NCAA collegiate champions, eight professionals and sending numerous athletes into college on scholarship, Alenik said.

“All of this was created from scratch,” said Alenik, who as a teenager was part of the group before playing collegiately at Villanova University.

The academy is run by Tim Blenkiron, a former UNLV national champion who is widely considered one of the nation’s top trainers.

Those in the No Quit Academy practice twice daily for six days a week, including four hours in the morning. They spend the rest of the day in the mentorship program, which is housed in a 30-foot-by-20-foot trailer at the park. The city provides the space to the foundation.

They attend the hybrid Odyssey Charter Schools, which requires students to attend class twice weekly and gives players the freedom to travel to tournaments and to work in the internship program.

“We like to say life is primary, tennis is secondary,” Alenik said. “These kids are graduating from Ivy League schools. They are doctors, business leaders, and just incredible human beings.”

The academy is such a success in youth tennis circles, Alenik said, that “our brainchild” has been replicated in 22 other cities by the United States Tennis Association.

Alenik says there are many partners working behind the scenes to give children the opportunity to thrive in the sport. That’s especially true of the city and Councilman Cedric Crear, he said.

Crear, a former captain of the Howard University tennis team, appreciates how the group is giving children in his ward an avenue to learn the game. A life sport such as tennis isn’t the sport of choice in the inner-city, where children mostly play basketball and football, he said.

“They are making things happen for the kids in the community. It’s a personal passion they have,” he said.

Lorenzi Park is one of the city’s gems — and not just because of the good tennis.

It was the vision of David G. Lorenzi, a French immigrant who purchased 80 acres of property about two miles west of the original townsite in 1912. The park opened as Lorenzi’s Lake Park in 1926 with a pool, dance pavilion, lakes and orchards.

It still serves a variety of residents, whether to use the spring-fed fishing pond or to catch a performance at the Sammy Davis Jr. Festival Plaza.

It is listed on the city’s Historic Property Register as a historic district, and on the Nevada State Register of historic places.

Article written by #LasVegasSun

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