In late August, Baylor celebrated the midpoint of construction on the Jim and Nell Hawkins Indoor Tennis Center with a "Topping Out" ceremony at the site of the new facility, named for the generous donors who made the project possible, Waco residents Jim, BBA '58, and Nell Hawkins.
A traditional "Topping Out" ceremony signifies construction being halfway complete with the placement of a structure's final support beam to symbolize growth and bestow good luck. A commemorative beam was signed by student-athletes and other guests to express gratitude to the Hawkinses, who also signed the beam during the celebration.
"Jim and Nell, we are gathered here because of you," Baylor University President Ken Starr said in his opening remarks. "You embody the connection of the community to the university and the university to the community. For your generosity of spirit, for all that you've done for Baylor University, for all that you do for the beloved community in which we live, we're very, very thankful."
Featuring six parallel indoor tennis courts with spectator seating for each court, the Hawkins Indoor Tennis Center will address the practical needs of Baylor's tennis programs, allowing the teams to practice year-round, regardless of adverse weather conditions, and to likely host the NCAA Tennis Championships in the future.
"This is way, way better than I ever dreamed," said Matt Knoll, director of Baylor tennis and head men's tennis coach. "This will be one of the nicest indoor tennis facilities in the country and will make a difference for us. I'm so thankful that Jim and Nell have helped us put this into place."
"One of the great things in life is to be able to give back to your community, and to be able to enjoy the fruits of your labor and to be able to share it," Jim Hawkins said. "We know this will make a difference for tennis. They are already an excellent program, and this will sustain that level of excellence."
"Facilities make a difference," Nell Hawkins said. "This will make it better for them to recruit and host an NCAA tournament here. It's nothing but good for Baylor."
In addition to the Hawkinses, Ian McCaw also thanked Claude and Becky Lindsey and the Lanning family for generous gifts to the Hawkins Indoor Tennis Center.
Located on La Salle Avenue across from the Ferrell Center, the facility also includes space to store recreational equipment for the adjacent intramural fields, benefitting a broad population of active Baylor students.
Baylor tennis has dominated the Big 12 Conference under the leadership of Knoll and women's head coach Joey Scrivano. The men have won 10 Big 12 regular season titles and seven conference tournament titles since 2000, while the women have won eight regular season titles and six conference tournaments since 2003. Both teams advanced to the round of 16 in 2012, with the women finishing in the top 15 for the eighth straight year, and the men featuring an All-American for the 11th consecutive season.