Plans for Varsity Tennis Season Yet to Be Set

Two state titles in a single year. One closed set of courts. Little certainty for the future. Lakeside’s tennis team faces the greatest reckoning in its storied history. While junior varsity lounges on recently repaved courts, varsity scrounges for the heaps of asphalt that remain. 

For years, varsity tennis practiced on Magnuson Park’s courts, the most dangerous of any in Seattle. Not only are the sandswept courts criss-crossed with cracks, but in some instances, there are six inches of elevation difference between the highest and lowest points of any court. In just the first half of last year’s tennis season, the court claimed three injured team members, leading varsity to relocate their practice to Ingraham. 

In the summer of 2022, the City of Seattle closed down Magnuson’s courts due to their hazardous condition, forcing the team’s shift to nearby Sand Point Country Club. However, the country club’s courts’ availability is up in the air after this tennis season, so the question remains: what now?

Mr. Hartley expressed that “the school was looking for what would benefit the greatest number of students” and so decided instead to spend $18.6 million on the renovation of the AAC.

Although Lakesiders like to gripe about the school’s lack of a pool or tennis courts, most of the student body is not aware that the school once planned to build additional athletic facilities. In an email sent out to the tennis team last December, Chris Hartley noted that during a meeting with tennis team captains, he shared a decade-old strategic plan that included a provision for courts built on campus. 

During an interview, he explained why the school had not advocated for the renovation of the Magnuson courts or built tennis courts on campus. Lakeside’s official strategic plan included an estimate of costs for certain “campus improvements” that estimated the cost of seven tennis courts on the softball field, with two of them sheltered, at $1.3 million. Although they were the cheapest of the proposed additions, Mr. Hartley expressed that “the school was looking for what would benefit the greatest number of students,” so instead decided to spend $18.6 million on the renovation of the AAC.

Mr. Hartley also explained that the tennis team was stuck at Magnuson before last year because Seattle public schools get preference when picking courts at Seattle parks. “Since I have been Director of Athletics here, the varsity tennis team has always played on Magnuson primarily because no other school wanted it,” he says.

Earlier this year, a school representative claimed in an email that “it has also been floated that the JV team could be sacrificed so varsity could take the Bitter Lake courts.” Such a plan would have halved the number of people playing tennis but would have allowed the school to focus resources on varsity. In the end, the school decided against that plan because it would go against Lakeside’s value of inclusivity. During the interview, he reiterated that the JV team will continue practicing at the newly-renovated Bitter Lake Courts as it has done in the past. (For any readers not familiar with tennis practice schedules, JV—and not varsity—practices on the Bitter Lake courts because there are only four, not the six “ideally required” for the varsity team).

As of now, Mr. Hartley is reasonably confident that the tennis team will be able to practice at Sand Point Country Club in 2023 but is unsure about 2024; the team may be able to continue playing at Sand Point Country Club due to the connections many Lakeside families have there, he believes.