Iowa State Athletics unveils plans for new tennis facility


Daniel Jacobi II

Sofia Cabezas celebrates after gaining a point during her doubles match alongside teammate Miska Kadleckova against UCLA’s Fangran Tian and Anne-Christine Lutkemeyer in the third round of the NCAA D1 Women’s Tennis Championship tournament in Ames, IA, on Friday, May 12, 2023.

The fruits of Iowa State tennis’ labor paid off as the ISU Athletic Department unveiled plans to build a new indoor and outdoor tennis complex.

The plans were announced by Director of Athletics Jamie Pollard on Tuesday, which detail an entirely new complex for the tennis team to reside in. The news came after a successful season in which the Cyclones marched to an Elite Eight appearance in the NCAA Tournament, the first for the program.

“It is truly amazing what our women’s tennis program has achieved over the last three seasons, especially in light of the fact that we do not have facilities that are comparable to other peer institutions, but we believe that this plan will allow us to build off our recent successes in a financially responsible manner while quickly addressing the program’s facility shortcomings,” Pollard said in a statement.

The Iowa State Research Park and the Ames Racquet and Fitness Center will be assisting the Cyclones in their transition. A four-court indoor tennis facility will be purchased by the Iowa State Research Park and expanded to six courts in order to provide adequate space for collegiate singles play action.

The Cyclones have not had any indoor courts to take advantage of previously, as the team would have to make the trip to Urbandale, Iowa, in the event of inclement weather to continue competing at the indoor courts at Life Time Fitness.

Along with the indoor courts, six new outdoor courts will also be built on the same property. The Cyclones previously used the Ames High School tennis courts as their home courts, as they hosted the first three rounds of the NCAA Tournament there.

The team will also be getting some much-needed facilities of their own along with the courts. A new team building will be set up to the Cyclones’ liking, including a team room, locker room and training room. Currently, the Cyclones are using the Bruce McKee Indoor Tennis Complex.

Once the facility is finished, it will be leased to the athletic department, pending approval from the Iowa Board of Regents in September. The outdoor courts are set to be completed in fall 2023, and the indoor courts and team building are set to be done by fall 2024.

“The success of our entire Athletics Department, embodied most recently by the 2023 women’s tennis campaign, is important to all of us who wear Cardinal and Gold,” Iowa State Research Park President Rick Sanders said in a statement. “The ISURP is excited to be the future home of Cyclone Tennis for many years to come.”

The Cyclones have been trending in a historically good direction in the last few years, as history seems to be made on a weekly basis. Former Iowa State head coach Boomer Saia — now the head coach of Clemson — changed the Cyclones into a powerhouse.

The Cyclones are coming off their best season to date in which they sent athletes to the NCAA Tournament for the third-straight year. Iowa State finished the 2023 season with a 21-6 record while only giving up two losses in conference play.

Some major wins for the Cyclones came against top schools in the nation, including wins over No. 9 Vanderbilt, No. 10 Miami, No. 18 UCLA and Big 12 opponent No. 1 Texas. The win over Texas was the first time in school history that the Cyclones beat the Longhorns and the first time they beat a top-ranked team.

The Cyclones also found their big wins over other Big 12 opponents in 2023 when they took down Oklahoma State for the first time ever and Baylor for the first time in Waco, Texas. Twelve of Iowa State’s wins came against top-50 ranked opponents.

Iowa State’s bright season did not end there, as the Cyclones hosted the first three rounds of the NCAA Tournament. Iowa State swept in-state rival Drake and took down No. 22 Wisconsin in dominant fashion. The Cyclones kept up the show as they rolled past No. 20 UCLA for a second time to earn a trip to Orlando, Florida, for the final rounds.

In Florida, the Cyclones fought hard to a dramatic finish against eventual runner-up NC State. The No. 4 ranked Wolfpack came back in the final match to squeak out a 4-3 win over Iowa State to end another historic Cyclone season.

Although the Cyclones will be without their leader as Saia moves on to Clemson, the future is still bright. With new facilities and a true place to call home, the ceiling has been raised again for a team that looks to continue defying all odds.