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story.lead_photo.caption The $2.6 million, eight-court Conway Tennis Complex is under construction in Laurel Park on Prince Street. The complex is scheduled to be completed by April 1, said Steve Ibbotson, director of Conway Parks and Recreation. A tournament is scheduled for April 27-29, said Marilynn Nabholz, chairwoman of the Conway Area Tennis Association’s facility project.

CONWAY — Although tennis is not a winter sport, the Conway Tennis Complex is moving right along to be finished for warmer weather.

“They’re rocking and rolling,” said Steve Ibbotson, director of Conway Parks and Recreation. “The cold temperatures have sort of slowed us down a little bit, but I fully anticipate [the courts] being ready by April 1.”

The $2.6 million eight-court tennis facility is under construction in Laurel Park on Prince Street, south of the high school campus. Corco Construction of Little Rock is the general contractor.

The lead architect on the project is Emily Ferris of Rik Sowell Architects in Conway. The project is being paid for with Advertising and Promotion funds, Ibbotson said.

“I think people are going to really like it. We’ve had a lot of positive comments from people driving by and looking at it,” Ibbotson said.

The city has eight public courts — four now at Laurel Park, two at Gatling Park on Tyler Street and two at Fifth Avenue Park — none of which is in good shape, Ibbotson said.

The Conway Area Tennis Association lobbied for more than 1 1/2 years to get new courts. The Conway City Council approved the project in July.

Marilynn Nabholz, chairwoman of the Conway Area Tennis Association’s facility project, said First Championships Tennis Tournament is scheduled for April 27-29 on the new courts.

“We’re happy about that. We’ll be inviting teams from across the state,” she said. Nabholz said last week that on the association’s Facebook page, almost 100 people have indicated they are going or are interested in going.

The tennis complex is attractive, as well as functional, she said.

“I love the way it looks, and it’s also very functional. I think the architects did a great job, and I’m excited we were able to add a good-sized backboard in the back, too,” Nabholz said.

In addition to the tennis courts, the project includes three structures: a pro shop, which will have an entry lobby, a reception counter, an office, a storage room and bathrooms; and two viewing/meeting buildings.

Nabholz said in an earlier interview that the two viewing/meeting buildings will have chairs and be air-conditioned.

Extensive glass will give a good view of the courts.

“Grandma and Grandpa can watch their grandchildren play, or parents can watch their children, or kids can do homework while their parents are playing,” she said.

Tennis teams can gather in the rooms before tournaments, a whole new aspect of tennis in Conway. Because of the dilapidated courts in the city, Conway has not been able to host tennis tournaments, Nabholz has said, adding that players can reserve the new courts at Laurel Park.

Conway Mayor Bart Castleberry said in an earlier interview that the new tennis facility “will actually bring revenue into Conway.”

“It’s a game people can play their entire lives, so [the facility] will be used,” he said.

The tennis teams at both Conway High School and the University of Central Arkansas have been discussed as potential users of the courts.

A staff member will be on-site during the facility’s hours of operation, which have not been set, Ibbotson said, and a fee to use the courts will be established.

Nabholz said people played tennis throughout December because the weather was so mild. However, a game was canceled recently because it was “ridiculously cold,” she said.

By April, though, they’ll be set to go.

Senior writer Tammy Keith can be reached at (501) 327-0370 or

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