New tennis courts

Members of the Ellensburg High School tennis team take to the courts at Central Washington University to face Othello earlier this month. (Brian Myrick / Daily Record)

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Central Washington University will honor a former professor and his family for the family’s gift toward $1 million in renovations at the campus’ tennis courts in a ceremony Saturday.

A $300,000 gift from the children of a former Central mathematics professor, will create the Fred and Valerie Lister Tennis Facility.

There will be a dedication and ribbon cutting ceremony 11 a.m. Saturday at the courts, on Dean Nicholson Boulevard west of Alder Street.

Fred Lister taught at Central from 1968 until retiring in 1988, and was an avid tennis fan and player. He died in 2012. Valerie Lister, his wife, was an artist who took commercial art classes at CWU and was active in community service. She took up tennis in her 50s, according to CWU, and died in 2009.

“It’s really a chance for their kids to come back and really see what their investment did, not only to CWU, but to the Ellensburg community and the tennis community at large,” CWU Athletic Director Dennis Francois said.

The Listers had three children, two of whom — Russ Lister of Everett and Anne Perry of Bow — are CWU alumni and played tennis for Central and Ellensburg High School in the late 1970s and early 1980s.

Another son, Jim Lister, played tennis at EHS in the 1980s and now lives in Richmond, Va.

“My dad was fanatical about tennis, and he got us playing as kids in Ellensburg in the 1970s,” Russ Lister, who earned his bachelor’s degree in mathematics in 1983, said when the family’s gift was announced. “This seemed like a way to give back to the community that was good for me but especially for my mom and dad. If they were around, I think they would think it’s a great idea.”

Anne Perry, who graduated in 1981 with a bachelor’s in biology, said after their father died, the family started looking for a way to use part of the estate to give back to Ellensburg.

“Russ and I had noticed that many of the local tennis courts were in terrible shape,” she said. “To us, there seemed to be a huge community need, so this seemed like a good fit.”

The courts have been open for use for the past several weeks, and the long-homeless Ellensburg High School tennis team was able to play its last match at the new courts.

The school and student government services and activities fees picked up the rest of the tab, said Jason Roundy, who works in university development for athletics.

Improvements to the courts include a uniformly level playing surface, as opposed to the tiered structure there before, which allows for an improved drainage system, Francois said.

The courts are lighted using timed, programmable lights Francois said will cut down on energy consumption and light pollution. They’ll also include timer switches to allow for after-dark play.

The court’s surface is two shades of red, and includes a large Wildcat logo in the center.

“It’s a really great design, and of course, we still have some things that we will need to do,” he said.

Coming additions include movable bleachers and wind screening for all the fencing.

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