Southeast D.C. Celebrates Renovation of Tennis and Learning Center

Officials are hoping an $18 million renovation of the Southeast Tennis and Learning Center will make a positive mark on Ward 8 residents, especially children. 

The improvements include new playgrounds, indoor and outdoor facilities and multi-purpose rooms. 

Woody McKnight grew up near the old tennis center -- where he said he spent more of his time than at home -- and is now planning on going professional.

"I know my dad's watching me up there," McKnight spoke of his late father, the former director of the center. "I know he's proud. He had a dream for me and I'm going to keep pushing for that dream."

During a ceremony Thursday, Mayor Vincent Gray said he hopes the center becomes a similar tool for other D.C. kids.

"The doors of this place are open to every kid in this neighborhood and even outside [of it] and that's what makes it great," he said.

Mark Ein, the owner of the Washington Kastles, said he knows the positive impact a sport like tennis can have on a young person's life.

"Woody may or may not become a great tennis player, but he's going to be a great leader and do something great with his life," Ein said.

"This facility really made me who I am today," McKnight agreed. "On Saturdays, I come and help, they have a tiny tots program and we teach them the sport."

The center will officially open its doors following a gala Nov. 7 hosted by Serena and Venus Williams, who helped sponsor the renovations.

"Anything is possible. That's something I learned right here," McKnight said. 

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