Ace Up Our Sleeve: Transformations at J. Spencer Love Tennis Center Elevate Greensboro’s Tennis Scene

January 19, 2024

We’re thrilled to bring you news on the exciting enhancements at the J. Spencer Love Tennis Center, a hub for tennis excellence nestled right here in Greensboro. Thanks to the dedication of Greensboro Parks and Recreation, coupled with a vision for inclusivity and accessibility, the Spencer Love Tennis Center has undergone significant improvements that not only elevate the facility but also solidify Greensboro’s standing as a regional tennis powerhouse. In September of 2023, United States Tennis Association (USTA) announced that the J. Spencer Love Tennis Center was one of 29 winners in the USTA’s annual Outstanding Facility Awards program, which recognizes excellence in the construction and/or renovation of tennis facilities throughout the country.

Setting the Stage:

The J. Spencer Love Tennis Center has long been a beloved fixture in Greensboro, providing a home for tennis enthusiasts and a venue for competitive play. The center is named for James Spencer Love, 1986-1962, the founder of Burlington Industries. Considered one of the most influential business leaders in North Carolina, Love built the largest manufacturing firm in the world and made rayon, AKA “artificial silk,” a household name.

Spencer Love Tennis Center Ribbon Cutting Ceremony October 20, 2023
Spencer Love Tennis Center Ribbon Cutting Ceremony October 20, 2023

According to Howard E. Covington Jr., author of Once Up a City, Greensboro, NC 2nd Century, “Love was constantly on the move, and he owned residences in New York, Palm Beach and Linville, NC, in addition to his home in Greensboro . . . If Love had any free time, he was more likely to be found on a tennis court or playing bridge than to be engaged in civic affairs. But mostly, he worked.” Love created the Burlington Industries Foundation and helped start the James Lee Love Educational Loan Fund. At his death, one-third of his estate went to the Martha and Spencer Love Foundation, a general philanthropic institution.

Recognizing the need for modernization and accessibility, Greensboro Parks and Recreation partnered with Greensboro Parks Foundation to transform the center into a state-of-the-art facility that caters to a diverse range of players. With the help of fundraising from Greensboro Parks Foundation, Greensboro Parks and Recreation invested over $1.2M from voter approved bonds, grant funds, and private donations to improve Spencer Love Tennis Center. These improvements included a new roof, exterior building to the club house and railing repairs. The expansion of the tennis courts included the construction of six new clay courts with new lighting. The tennis court expansion highlights Spencer Love Tennis complex as the largest outdoor clay facility in the southeast. Recognized by the USTA Foundation as a National Junior Tennis and Learning Excellence Program, Spencer Love, is the largest public clay court facility in North Carolina and falls into the top 10 in the Southern region.

Accessibility for All:

A core focus of the improvements at the Spencer Love Tennis Center was to make the sport accessible to a broader audience. Greensboro Parks and Recreation recognized the importance of breaking down barriers that may prevent individuals from enjoying the game. As a result, several key initiatives were undertaken to ensure inclusivity.

The introduction of adaptive tennis programs was a milestone in making the sport accessible to players with varying abilities. These programs, designed in collaboration with local organizations and tennis professionals, cater to individuals with disabilities, providing specialized coaching and equipment to make tennis a sport for everyone. The inclusive nature of these programs not only enhances the center’s role in the community but also strengthens Greensboro’s reputation as a city committed to sports for all.

Affordable Membership Options:

Greensboro Parks and Recreation understands the importance of affordability in promoting widespread participation in tennis. Through the City’s partnership with the Greensboro Tennis Foundation, access to the sport is made possible through citywide tennis programs at park and recreation facilities and scholarships.

Facility Upgrades and Technological Advancements:

To match the city’s growing prominence in the tennis community, the Spencer Love Tennis Center underwent extensive facility upgrades to enhance the overall player experience. Maintaining top-quality playing surfaces is crucial for any tennis facility, and the Spencer Love Tennis Center took this to heart. Courts were resurfaced to meet the USTA standards, providing a consistent and reliable playing experience. Additionally, the installation of modern LED lighting ensures that players can enjoy the courts well into the evening, allowing for more flexible scheduling and increased court availability.

Regional Tennis Hub:

The improvements at the Spencer Love Tennis Center haven’t just transformed it into a local gem; they’ve also solidified Greensboro’s position as a regional tennis hub. The City’s commitment to creating a world-class tennis facility has attracted attention from players and organizations across the region.

The upgraded facilities have positioned Greensboro as an ideal host for regional and even national tennis tournaments. The City has actively pursued partnerships with tennis organizations, attracting competitive events that showcase the Greensboro’s dedication to the sport. Hosting tournaments not only brings economic benefits to the community but also raises the profile of Greensboro as a destination for tennis excellence.

Girl Playing Tennis

Collaborations with tennis academies and the introduction of developmental programs have further strengthened Greensboro’s reputation in the tennis community. The Spencer Love Tennis Center now serves as a training ground for promising young players, fostering talent and contributing to the growth of tennis in the region. These initiatives align with the city’s broader goal of creating a pathway for players to pursue tennis at both recreational and professional levels.

Community Engagement and Future Plans:

Greensboro Parks and Recreation understands that community engagement is key to the sustained success of the J. Spencer Love Tennis Center. The center regularly hosts community events, clinics, and social tournaments to foster a sense of camaraderie among players of all skill levels. Future plans include expanding outreach programs to additional recreations centers in Greensboro and promoting tennis as a lifelong sport from an early age.

The improvements at the J. Spencer Love Tennis Center reflect Greensboro’s commitment to creating a tennis facility that is not only top-notch but also inclusive and accessible. The transformation positions the center as a focal point for tennis enthusiasts, both locally and regionally, contributing to Greensboro’s identity as a city that values sports excellence. Whether you’re a seasoned player or someone just picking up a racket for the first time, the Spencer Love Tennis Center invites you to be part of the exciting world of tennis in Greensboro. So, grab your racket, hit the courts, and let’s continue to serve up success on and off the court!

By Paula Barger, Executive Director, Greensboro Parks Foundation