"This is an exciting development for Baylor Men's and Women's Tennis," Ian McCaw, Baylor's Director of Athletics, said. "Through the generosity of Jim and Nell Hawkins, our talented student-athletes and coaches will enjoy a unique space to meet, practice and prepare as they continue their impressive performance as two of the nation's top tennis programs."
Addressing the practical needs of Baylor's consistently high-performing tennis programs, the Hawkins' foresight will enable the teams to practice year-round in a state-of-the-art facility, regardless of adverse weather conditions. The center will feature six parallel indoor tennis courts and spectator seating for each court. It is a product of Baylor Athletics' recent Victory with Integrity campaign.
"Baylor is blessed to recruit many of the best players in the world," Matt Knoll, director of tennis and men's coach, said. "It is extremely exciting to provide them with top-notch facilities to practice, compete and bring home victories for Baylor."
"Baylor Tennis has two of the best coaches in the country and very talented student-athletes," Nell Hawkins said. "I think Baylor deserves this. Jim and I both love tennis. It is the sport of a lifetime, so we are so excited to do this project for Baylor."
The Hawkins' love for Baylor and generous support of her students and programs is apparent across campus and particularly evident in their support of Baylor Athletics. Jim (BBA '58) and Nell, a "Baylor Alumna by Choice" (ABC), have faithfully supported scholarships for student-athletes as well as excellence funds for basketball, tennis and baseball, the Baylor Bear Foundation and mission trips by Baylor's Sports Ministry Team. They generously provided the J-Hawk Limited and Nell Hawkins practice courts for Baylor's Men's and Women's Basketball programs, and their first significant gift to Baylor Athletics funded a scoreboard at Floyd Casey Stadium.
"It's always good when you can see the tangible results of a gift, and I'm excited to see the results of this facility for the Tennis program," Jim Hawkins said. "Baylor Tennis has had great success but has never had a facility like this for practicing and hosting national events. I think it will be a nice addition to the community as well."
"We could not be happier about the indoor tennis facility and improvements to our overall tennis complex," Head Women's Coach Joey Scrivano said. "As a team, we greatly appreciate the generosity that helps meet the needs of Baylor Tennis. We have an elite tennis program, and these additions only will increase our ability to remain at the top of our game."
Baylor men's and women's tennis continued their winning ways during the 2010-2011 season. Both programs finished No. 6 in the final Intercollegiate Tennis Association (ITA) rankings, giving the Bears their 10th straight top eight ranking and the fourth consecutive season for the Lady Bears to be ranked among the nation's top six in the season-ending poll. The Baylor men won the Big 12 regular-season title and reached the NCAA quarterfinals, while the women's team reached the NCAA Final Four for the second time in program history after sweeping the Big 12 regular-season and tournament crowns.
Construction on the Jim and Nell Hawkins Indoor Tennis Center is scheduled to begin this fall and will be located on La Salle Avenue across from the Ferrell Center. In addition to unique features tailored specifically for Baylor Tennis, the facility also reserved space to store recreational equipment for the adjacent intramural fields, benefitting a broad population of active Baylor students.
In the spirit of the verse, "to whom much is given, much is required," the Hawkins' impact has touched the University well beyond Athletics alone. They are members of the Medallion Fellowship Society at the Judge R.E.B. Baylor Level, and both served on the Bush Library Steering Committee. Jim and Nell also have supported several areas of Baylor's Hankamer School of Business, including endowed scholarships and endowed faculty and staff positions. Jim has served on the Hankamer School of Business Board of Advisors and the Baylor Foundation's board. Nell is an Art Angel for Baylor's Martin Museum of Art and is known for, along with her friend, initiating the Gold Rush Campaign that transformed the spectator experience at Baylor's athletic events. Deeply valuing both Baylor and their local community, the couple has maintained involvement with the Baylor/Waco Foundation.