When Twin Cities businessman Fred Wells signed up for tennis lessons at the age of 65, he realized a tennis court could provide powerful lessons like sportsmanship, perseverance and hard work. Fred conceived a powerful vision: offer tennis and life skills development opportunities to inspire youth from under-resourced communities to be successful on and off the court.
The Fred Wells Tennis & Education Center, affectionately known as The Fort, opened in 2002, and since then, we have been intentionally breaking down barriers to participation; as a public tennis facility, we offer some of most affordable courts and junior and adult tennis programs in the Twin Cities. We also offer TennisWorks, our youth development continuum serving grades 3-12 through school and community partnerships. TennisWorks uses the game to capture a child’s interest and weaves in opportunities to assist youth in developing critical life skills such as goal setting, communication, self-control, time management and teamwork. At the heart of our program is our deep commitment to providing a safe, supportive environment with caring adults who reinforce our “Fort Five”—Safety, Respect, Commitment, Integrity and Kindness.
On the 10th anniversary of The Fort's founding, we were rewarded for Wells’ visionary thinking and our hard work with several prestigious awards: 2011 USTA National Junior Tennis & Learning (NJTL) Chapter of the Year, USTA Member Organization of the Year and PTR Facility of the Year. In 2013, Tennis magazine honored our groundbreaking programs by featuring us in its “Heroes” issue.
Now is a particularly exciting time at The Fort because this year we are embarking on a capital campaign to make our facility an even better place to play. Our plans call for new air-supported structures, an additional tennis court, expanded parking and more. Please visit our capital campaign page for details and to make a contribution. This is a pivotal moment as we build on The Fort's 15 year history as a place for everyone to play—from experienced senior players to junior players and TennisWorks participants just discovering the lifelong game of tennis.