STINGDAILY: Women's Tennis Opens Facility with Win

Jan. 17, 2013

by Matt Winkeljohn, Sting Daily –

Thursday afternoon was akin to a commercial for Georgia Tech tennis, albeit one played on a channel with some static (lousy weather) like you’d find in pre-cable days.

The Ken Byers Tennis Complex was dedicated, and somehow that was a warm and fuzzy event even though it was outside under an awning just off the corner of 10th and Fowler with wind blowing cold rain sideways.

Then, everybody moved indoors, where for Tech’s 20th-ranked women Yellow Jackets, No. 72 Syracuse, fans, VIPs, former Tech players, present Tech football, track, baseball student-athletes and Byers Complex neighbor and Tech president Bud Peterson . . . it was really warm. And dry. And well lit. And spacious.

It was like moving from analog to digital in moments, which is about how long it seems to have taken to build this wonderful place. Just ask the namesake.

“I woke up this morning and told my wife, ‘This could be a top 10 day in our life,’ and it turns out it is,” Byers said privately as the match wore down with Tech having already clinched with a 4-1 lead. “I’m so happy for Georgia Tech to have this new facility, and I’m very proud that Trish and I were a part of it.”
  
Credit goes to a long list of people for helping complete the dramatic transformation of the northeast quadrant of Tech’s campus, and Ken Byers and wife Trish can be found at the top of the list for sake of substantial contributions.

With undergraduate and master’s degrees from the Institute (both EE), Byers been a patron of Tech’s athletic programs and the School of Electrical and Computer Engineering for a while now.

Thursday was a seminal moment in a long time line, one whose cherry on top would be the Yellow Jackets’ christening 4-3 win.

Tech has six indoor courts now where less than one year ago there were three, which tended to draw out these winter matches sometimes to four and even five hours because the final three singles matches could not be started until the first three were completed.

Here’s the plot: Having a healthy roster: valuable; Winning the the season opener: 1-0; having a facility that puts Georgia Tech on the same playing field as the nation’s top tennis programs, priceless.

“I had very high expectations for this, and it met them,” said Byers, whose company can be found here (http://www.byers.com/).

“Tonight, I had to sit back and look at the weather outside, and we’re playing a match on all six courts in the winter, raining and cold – all six courts at once. That’s never been done before at Georgia Tech. It can save so many hours for these students, who had to stay away from their studies for six or seven hours at a time before.”

Oh, and women’s coach Rodney Harmon had a good time, too. The first match on campus since the Bill Moore Tennis Center was demolished last spring/early summer was a rousing success. Today at 1, the men get their shot against Old Dominion.

The Jackets Thursday won all three doubles matches to earn that point, and then clinched at 4-1 as Alex Anghelescu won 6-2, 6-1 on No. 6 singles, senior Elizabeth Kilborn won 6-4, 6-3 at No. 1 after falling behind 0-4 in the first set, and Kendall Woodard prevailed 7-5, 7-5 on No. 2.

“They have a very good team, and they’re an indoor team because they play indoors [most] of the year. For us, we’ve only been inside since last Friday [the first day since last spring that the Jackets were able to practice anywhere on campus other than atop the Peters Parking deck].”

Tech played well, and it was especially good that the Jackets were able to work their preferred doubles lineups together after injuries mucked up the works so often in the fall.

“We needed that so badly, and that’s why we played [out the matches even after the doubles point was clinched] . . . because we need the practice,” Harmon said. “The doubles point is big for us, and we need the practice. We’ve got to have success at doubles if we’re going to have success.”

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