A Note From Esther …

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Dear Friends of the Fort,

As Charles Bowden famously said, “Summertime is always the best of what might be.” No truer words are spoken when it comes to all of the exciting things happening at The Fort this summer in preparation of what is going to be – an even better place to call home for all who walk through our doors this fall and into 2020.

What exciting things you ask? There are so many, I am not even sure where to start. In mid-May, The Fort took down its front bubble and removed its mini court. We then resurfaced the front courts and added a full-size 78-foot court, making nine total courts at Fred Wells and adding 5,400 hours of court time annually for our patrons!

We have needed that ninth court, as there has been a lot of energy filling the facility daily with junior programming, adult drills, summer camps and USTA junior tournaments with the The Fort Summer Series.  In June, we partnered with YWCA Girls, Inc. Eureka in hosting Women’s Tennis Day at The Fort, and in July, we were the home to the Special Olympics Minnesota Area 11/12 Tennis Championships.

We have also been taking our free TennisWorks programming off-site this summer through outreach programs at Urban Academy, Andersen United Community School and Maxfield Elementary in the Twin Cities, as well as assisting the Hastings Tennis Association with a free camp for under-resourced youth in their community. 

For our junior program participants, summertime has also been busy with many playing USTA National Tournaments, as well as competing in Sectional events and in local Junior Team Tennis (JTT) leagues. Our very own Kaleb Ngwendson won the USTA Northern Boys 12s Singles and Doubles Section Championships and was one of eight Fort players to participate at Zonal events around the country. Our 18s Intermediate team advanced to the semifinals of the Gold bracket at the JTT Section Championships, while our Fred team took home a medal, finishing second in the 18 Intermediate Bronze bracket!

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There is also a lot of excitement surrounding our Capital Campaign thanks to a number of very generous supporters who are investing in our future.

  • We have raised almost $700,000 for the Capital Campaign – one-third of the way to our overall goal of $1.7 million. Only $1 million to go. We can do this!

  • In June and July, The Fort received gifts totaling over $38,000, smashing our matching gift goal of $10,000 provided by an anonymous patron to kick off Phase II of the Capital Campaign!

  • Patrons Santosh and Ruth Krishnan increased their initial $20,000 Capital Campaign gift to $50,000 securing court-naming rights! Court 4 will be known as the Santosh & Ruth Krishnan Court! There are still seven courts and two domes with naming rights available. I would love to discuss the possibilities with you!

  • In June, Hennepin County District 4 Commissioner Angela Conley came to Fred Wells to meet many of our summer campers and TennisWorks kids and thank them for a book they made telling her why they love The Fort.

  • And just last week, patron Caryn Sullivan wrote an amazing opinion piece for the St. Paul Pioneer Press which told the story of why The Fort is such a special place for not only those who currently play and teach here, but for future generations to come. Please take a moment to read Caryn’s heartfelt piece titled The Real Magic of the Fort Happens in the Afternoon by clicking here

You might think all of this is making us tired, but quite the contrary, as it is only the beginning of many more exciting events and milestones coming up for The Fort including:

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  • Thursday, Aug. 15 – End-of-Summer Picnic for all junior players and families, as well as our senior send-off for all Fort kids headed off to college.

  • Friday, Aug. 16 – Construction begins on Phase II, Part 2 of the Capital Campaign including a new front bubble, air conditioning and LED lighting!

  • Saturday, Sept. 7 – Grand Opening celebration for all who have contributed to the Capital Campaign featuring the dedication of the Rinkoff/Ferguson Family Lobby, the Tom & Michele Mingo Court and the Santosh & Ruth Krishnan Court.

  • Saturday, Oct. 12 – FORTify Our Future Gala at the Hotel Intercontinental in St. Paul with all proceeds benefiting the Capital Campaign. Individual and table packages are on sale now for this inaugural event that features food, drink, guest speakers, raffles (including an autographed Roger Federer tennis racquet), silent and live auctions (including an exclusive US Open ticket package in the President’s Box), fund-a-need and much more. We are still looking for sponsors and volunteers for the Gala. For more information and to order tickets, please click here or contact Lisa Mushett at lisa@fwtec.org or at (612) 252-8367 to learn how you can help FORTify Our Future.

Looking forward to welcoming you back in the fall, and seeing you playing in our new bubble. Enjoy the rest of summer.

With gratitude,
Esther Tsai
Executive Director