The University of Alabama has announced plans to open the first adapted athletics tennis facility in the nation later this year. With accessible locker rooms, space to host clinics and tournaments and training areas for the UA's world-renowned tennis team, construction on the Parker-Huan Tennis Facility will begin immediately.

The Adapted Athletics program recently raised about $5 million to construct the state-of-the-art Strand-Hardin Arena at the University Recreation Center, but its distance from the tennis courts was inconvenient for adapted athletes who needed to travel back and forth between the facilities frequently.

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In an exclusive interview with The Tuscaloosa Thread, UA's Vice President for Advancement Bob Pierce explained why this facility is essential to furthering the success of these student-athletes.

“Our adapted athletes currently have to use locker rooms down in Strand-Hardin Arena for restroom facilities, to change, to do everything you need to do to be able to prepare, practice and compete in wheelchair tennis,” Pierce said.

He said this approximately $1 million project will solve this problem by providing a more convenient location for these elite tennis players to prepare for matches. The University of Alabama’s adapted tennis team has won five national championships since 2012.

The Adapted Athletics program is part of the College of Education and often sets the standards for adapted athletic programs across the country. In a statement released Monday, UA president Stuart Bell said the new facility will continue that tradition.

“By helping to provide the Adapted Athletics tennis team with a state-of-the-art facility that matches their championship status, we are enhancing the use of UREC space, further supporting UA adapted student-athletes and adding value to both programs,” Bell said.

The construction of the new facility was made possible by a $500,000 donation from Tim and Cathy Parker of Parker Towing Company and Charlie and Alice Huan as well as around $370,000 in gifts from 21 other donors.

“People don’t realize adapted athletes need the same facilities, equipment, opportunities and resources as other athletes do,” said Adapted Athletics Director Brent Hardin. “Once people see our athletes and what we’re doing, they want to get involved and it makes a huge difference.”

To follow the championship wheelchair tennis team and all of the adapted athletes on their journeys, go to alabamaadapted.com.

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