Friends Dedicate MUS Field House

November 20, 2014

Campus News

Members of the 1958 Southern Interscholastic Tennis Championship team, from left, Ferrell Varner ’60, John Bondurant ’60, Les Nicholson ’58, Carl Olsen ’60, Alex Wellford ’60, and Archie McLaren ’60 joined in the dedication of the Field House before several teamed up with current MUS tennis players to try out the courts.

Members of the 1958 Southern Interscholastic Tennis Championship team, from left, Ferrell Varner ’60, John Bondurant ’60, Les Nicholson ’58, Carl Olsen ’60, Alex Wellford ’60, and Archie McLaren ’60 joined in the dedication of the Field House before several teamed up with current MUS tennis players to try out the courts.

Members of the MUS 1958 Southern Interscholastic Tennis Championship team returned to campus November 13 for the dedication of the Field House, the school’s new indoor multi-sports facility. They joined with fellow alumni, students, faculty, and friends to celebrate the school’s legacy of tennis excellence, crowned with the creation of this $2.25 million, 37,000-square-foot steel structure, which features four tennis courts plus a men’s locker room and shower facilities for men and women, all under a roof that reaches 44 feet in height.

“An indoor sports facility had long been a dream on the school’s wish list,” Headmaster Ellis Haguewood said. “And then along came John Pettey [’67]. He and Director of Advancement Perry Dement put together a group who shared the dream.”

Haguewood extended his thanks to the other members of the steering committee: Alex Wellford ’60, Chuck Smith ’66, Bruce Hopkins ’68, Walker Sims ’74, Gwin Scott ’83, Brett Grinder ’91, Ed Apple, Phil Chamberlain, Chris Danielson, and Ron Schneiter. He also expressed his gratitude for the many men and women who generously supported the dream along the way.

“We were blessed with a lead gift of such magnitude that we began to believe that it could really happen. In addition we received major gifts from alumnus David Sacks [’90] and his wife, Jacqueline; from Billy and Tommie Dunavant; and from John and Mary Dicken,” Haguewood said.

“Significant gifts also came from Bryan and Kim Jordan, Ed and Margaret Apple, George and Janet Leavell, George [’98] and Ann Pettey, John [’67] and Jana Pettey, Nancy Smith, John and Anne Stokes, Joe and Ann Weller, John [’74] and Lucy Wepfer, and the 1958 Southern Interscholastic Tennis Team Champions. Many, many others gave generously.”

Grinder, president of the construction firm Grinder, Taber & Grinder, “value-engineered” the project – with input from Director of Athletics Bobby Alston, Director of Business Operations Rankin Fowlkes, and Chamberlain, director of the Dunavant-Wellford Tennis Center – so the projected cost matched the budget, Haguewood said.

Grinder shared some construction details, including that the building was initially conceived as a standard indoor tennis facility with 54-by-120-foot courts. “But we now have a tournament-quality building housing 60-by-120-foot courts with an extra 10 feet on the ends due to the efforts of John Pettey watching other court renovations that had occurred just before this at the University Club and Memphis Country Club.”

Pettey called the combination of the Field House and the outdoor Dunavant-Wellford Tennis Center the best tennis complex in the area.

“This facility now brings MUS up to a competitive level with the private schools that are our major competitors – Baylor, McCallie, and MBA – all of which have indoor and outdoor courts.”

Bill Taylor – a 13-time Commercial Appeal Coach of the Year who has led MUS boys to 13 state championships and eight runner-up finishes in his 38 seasons – thanked all who contributed to the Field House project. He offered special thanks to Pettey, who also led the effort to build the Dunavant-Wellford courts.

“Because of John’s initiative and indomitable spirit twice leading the way, MUS now has one of the finest tennis complexes in the South,” Taylor said. “The Field House may not be the shining city on the hill that the Pilgrims had envisioned, but it is the closest that some of us will get to heaven.”

Chamberlain said that the tennis team’s ability to practice in the Field House this spring has already yielded results. The team placed fifth at the National High School Tennis All-American Tournament in Santa Ana, CA, taking on top teams from New York, Florida, and California.

“We were so ready because we were able to get out there and practice for those two months in advance,” Chamberlain said. “It makes a massive difference.”

The Owls went on to win the TSSAA Division II-AA team championship – giving MUS the most state team wins on record – and to sweep the singles and doubles titles.

Following the dedication ceremony, a number of guests hit the courts. Members of the 1958 championship team – Les Nicholson ’58, John Bondurant ’60, Archie McLaren ’60, Carl Olsen ’60, Ferrell Varner ’60, and Alex Wellford ’60 – teamed up with current MUS players for a few games.

To see more photos from the Field House dedication, visit the MUS Photo Gallery.

MUS tennis players, front row, from left, Alex Carruthers, Michael Apple; second row, Maxwell Varner, Paul LaHue, Austin Hord, Sloan Schneiter, Jack Richman, Frederick Danielson, Arnav Thakur, and Andres Carro

MUS tennis players, front row, from left, Alex Carruthers, Michael Apple; second row, Maxwell Varner, Paul LaHue, Austin Hord, Sloan Schneiter, Jack Richman, Frederick Danielson, Arnav Thakur, and Andres Carro

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