El SERENO — Cal State L.A. held a groundbreaking this morning for the Rosie Casals/Pancho Gonzalez Tennis Center, which would mark the first major upgrade at the campus’ 11-acre Billie Jean King Sports Complex.
Casals and King, a Cal State alum who attended the school from 1961 to 1964, were on hand for the ceremony near the site of the planned, 7,000 -square foot center. The $5 million building, which will be financed by private donors, will host various community organizations along with Cal State’s tennis program. The center, which is still being designed, is expected to open by fall 2016 but there’s no official construction and opening timeline has yet to be announced.
Casals, like King, was a pioneer in women’s tennis fighting discrimination in the sport throughout the 1960s and 1970s. Richard “Poncho” Gonzalez was inducted into the Tennis Hall of Fame in 1968 at the age of 40 while still playing competitively in the sport. His family members and representatives from the Pancho Gonzalez Youth Foundation were scheduled to attend the groundbreaking.
The proposed tennis building will consist of two floors, including viewing areas for and a full kitchen and meeting rooms to accommodate special events.
“It will serve as a fitting home for our nationally-ranked tennis program and provide us a facility that is ideally suited for hosting a variety community engagement and youth sports activities,” said Director of Athletics Dan Bridges said in a statement. “I am very excited about the new tennis center.”
Nathan Solis is a Highland Park resident who writes about and photographs the L.A. music scene. You can find more of Solis stories, reviews and photos at Smashed Chair.