Bemidji Area Tennis Association

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September 23, 2017 07:21 AM

The game is in play and the Bemidji Area Tennis Association (BATA) is now serving for the tennis match.  The George W. Neilson Foundation recently awarded BATA with a “last in” grant of $300,000.  “This is an exciting step for our organization,” said Paul Swartwood, BATA Board President. “The Neilson grant moves us past half way to having the funds needed to build Bemidji’s indoor tennis facility. Other donors now have an incentive to get involved to help reach the fundraising finish line, about $450,000 away.”

Tennis is a great way for anyone to stay fit. Bemidji has tennis players that range in age from four to eighty-five. Tennis is available to players of all economic levels.  A racket and a can of balls can cost less than $40. The cost to play at our indoor tennis facility is also planned with economics in mind- as a tennis match will cost less than a trip to the movie theater.  

BATA was incorporated in 2004. It offers youth and adult tennis programming to players from seventeen area communities, including 10 & Under tennis at the Paul Bunyan Communications Walleye Fry, Jamie Hoffman’s 10 & Under summer program and 10 & Under programming at the Bemidji Boys & Girls Club. It offers three different weekly doubles leagues, a coed singles challenge ladder, group lessons and more than 800 hours of individual lessons from USPTA / USPTR certified instructors. More than 60% of the individual tennis lessons are given to Bemidji area junior players.  

Bemidji has nineteen outdoor tennis courts that are used from April to October.  Unfortunately outdoor play stops when there’s heavy wind, rain or snow. According to Swartwood and numerous BATA members, year-round tennis with Bemidji’s own indoor tennis facility will be a year-round win for the entire community.

BATA is experienced in facility management, having maintained debt-free tennis programming out of the former CBS Fitness.  Fundraising for a new building began in earnest in 2010, following the demolition of CBS Fitness. BATA now has $150,000 in cash and individual pledges. It owns a nine acre property near the fair grounds that is fully paid for. BATA is also likely to receive pledges of $10,000 from USTA Northern and $50,000 from USTA National.  Combined with the $300,000 “last in” grant from the George W. Neilson Foundation, BATA is well on its way to building an indoor tennis facility. The planned facility will have two courts, two bathrooms and an elevated observation area at a total cost of about $950,000.  The property has room for a total of four indoor courts and two outdoor courts when and if it is justified by demand and financial backing.  BATA will track our fundraising progress on our website at Donations may also be sent by mail to BATA at PO Box 694, Bemidji, MN 56619, and questions directed to Paul Swartwood at 218-929-0590 or  “We’ll see you on the courts!”