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The vision of our founder Mr. Fred Wells is to provide seniors with affordable access to our tennis facility.  Today, the Fred Wells Tennis & Education Center is a home to hundreds of seniors who embrace tennis as a lifelong sport for health and wellness.

In the spirit of our visionary founder, FWTEC is proud to honor deserving seniors with our annual Legends of the Fort award.  This award is a distinction bestowed upon seniors who have demonstrated a lifelong passion for tennis and who have engaged the Fort community with their enthusiasm, volunteer service, and commitment to FWTEC.

These honorees have played an integral role in making FWTEC what it is today and they are helping shape what it will become in the future.  It is because of their efforts that tennis will continue to thrive for decades to come.

Legends of the Fort


The late-Edward Backstrom III was a retired attorney for the City of Minneapolis. He loved the outdoors and enjoyed tennis, volleyball, biking, scuba diving, skiing, golf and photography. Two to three times a week, Ed participated in tennis drills at The Fort. He also was a frequent volunteer with the TennisWorks program, and since October of 2016, he had accumulated over 100 hours of service. Ed was an incredible friend of The Fort, with his family asking that all memorials support the TennisWorks program after he passed away.


Recently celebrating her 89th birthday, age does not stop Corrine McCarthy from doing the things she loves most, including playing tennis. Playing 3-4 times a week, there are days she plays up to 3 hours a day subbing for other players. Corrine started playing at The Fort in 2004 when the Lilydale Club closed and has been a fixture here ever since. Corrine shows that tennis is truly a lifetime sport and demonstrates the spirit of what makes up a Legend of the Fort.


Karen Hollaus has been a regular at The Fort since the closing of the Lilydale Club in 2004. She began taking tennis lessons from Ric Yates and Jim Dixon – both previous Legends of the Fort honorees - in the late 1970s and early 1980s at Lilydale, developing a friendship with these coaches that continues today. Karen has participated on Women’s Daytime League teams in both singles and doubles at The Fort, plays doubles with friends regularly and has frequently been on the court herself perfecting her serve or strokes with the ball machine.

Charlie Boone, 2017

Charlie Boone was the long-time voice on WCCO radio.  Paired up with the late Roger Erickson, their show was a mainstay in the Twin Cities for 37-years.  Charlie was an early advocate for The Fort, using his radio show as a platform to get the word out about the center in its early days in the early 2000s.  He played at The Fort Monday, Wednesday and Saturday with his devout group of friends, several of whom are still playing Monday and Wednesday mornings. 

Bea Langford, 2017

Bea embodies the lifelong game of tennis!  She’s been playing since her mother took her and her younger brother out to a net strung-up in the driveway.  That one game of tennis was the only one until high school when she was able to play tennis in high school (though it involved a great deal of running up and down hills in between classes).  From there, Bea took lessons and joined a robust community of tennis players and their families.  Bea played at Lilydale enjoying the company of mixed-doubles until The Fort opened in 2002 where she’s played ever since.  Bea credits tennis with allowing her to make lifelong friends, keeping fit, and helping keep a balance in life.

Skip Pederson, 2017

Skip  is a long time supporter of The Fort. Skip runs 12 permanent court times weekly hosting roughly 20 senior participants and is always headed out to "lunch" with his friends.   He is known for his big personality and great and friendly attitude.  He brings a smile to everyone's face every time he enters the building.  Anyone you talk to would agree that he is a true legend of The Fort!

Tony Stingley, 2017

For over 25 years, Stingley served as a tennis instructor, player, official, administrator and mentor helping thousands of people throughout the tennis community.  Tony was instrumental in founding The Fort’s weekend programs during the early days of The Fort’s inception.  His guidance was crucial in getting The Fort where it is today.  Tony currently heads up USTA Northern’s Diversity and Inclusion initiatives, including the Diverse Player Scholarship program which grants under-resourced junior players the opportunity to participate in the game of tennis.

Doug Benson, 2016

Doug has been a volunteer in our TennisWorks after-school program since January of 2005, eleven years of untiring commitment and time to the mission of FWTEC.  Everyone here at The Fort and other volunteers describe him as a kind, caring and observant youth coach.  He tries to learn students’ names, no matter how difficult it might be.  The first year, we had 10 Myanmar students with names difficult for a native English speaker.  Doug took the attendance sheet  home and memorized them all.  Doug often thinks about the students after a session and will bring new ideas and observations about what might work better with the students.

Jim Nichols, 2016

In 2005, Jim brought two groups of his tennis friends to The Fort upon the closing of Lilydale Club. Today, Jim calls FWTEC his home. He reserves 22 plus courts per week with over 100 players on his roster.  He makes sure that all his players stay competitive.  Jim fills the morning courts with smiling faces and is always willing  to take on new players and make them feel welcome at the Fort.  Jim, at 87 years of age, remains a competitive player on the court.  Over the years, Jim has provided many opportunities for seniors to continue and begin playing the life-long sport of tennis. Jim is truly an ambassador of the Fort and the game of tennis.

Jim Dixon, 2016

Jim and his devout players migrated to FWTEC in 2005 when the Lilydale Club closed its doors.  Since then, Jim has been at the heart of our Women’s Day League, coaching teams of all different skill levels. In addition, Jim has coached  juniors at The Fort and is a boys high school coach.  Jim is a widely respected racquet stringing expert and has been the architect behind players’ racquets over the years. Jim continues his passion for tennis with his weekly doubles crew here at The Fort.

Ruby Rott, 2016

Ruby is an 83-year-old woman who can keep up with players who are half her age.  Ruby loves her tennis. Even though her doctors have encouraged her to slow down a bit, Ruby is from the World War II generation.  She has the Rosie the Riveter attitude of “we can do it” and she does.  In addition to playing league tennis, Ruby regularly competes in tennis in the Annual Senior Games.  Each year she competes against other players across the nation and regularly brings home a collection of gold and silver trophies and medals.  This year, Ruby was inducted into the Minnesota Senior Sports Association Hall of Fame. Ruby is living proof that age is merely a “state of mind.”

Ric Yates, 2016

Ric has been one of the most respected coaches in the Northern Section for over 40 years, dating back to the early 70s when he became the Tennis Director at the Lilydale Club.  Ric is a highly respected premier coach for juniors and adults of all levels.  Ric has coached at the collegiate level, leading the University of Thomas to a MIAC title and producing four NCAA Division III All Americans.  In 2005 when Lilydale closed, Ric found a new home at FWTEC.  In his 11 years at the Fort, he has worked with hundreds of Women’s Day League players and remains a trusted voice in all areas of tennis development, coaching and management.  One of the section’s craftiest doubles players, Ric Yates has demonstrated a passion for the game of tennis throughout his life and has influenced many to embrace tennis as a life-long sport.