Collaboration between Glen Arbor Township, Leelanau School revives tennis courts

By Jacob Wheeler
Sun editor

For years, the tennis courts at the Leelanau School, the private boarding school north of Glen Arbor, sat unused, succumbing to cracks and weeds. High schools stars such as Brian Munroe, Jason Petty and internationally ranked Danish exchange student Dan Valbak once swung their rackets here, and the school routinely competed in the high school state championship. But last decade the Leelanau School all but eliminated its sports program.

Enter Jim Fowler, who serves on the Glen Arbor Township’s Park Commission. Fowler established a symbiotic relationship with the school, and the courts are now open for the public to play tennis and pickleball, free of charge. Leelanau School gains exposure, and the public gains another place to recreate. That’s particularly advantageous during the busy months of July and August, when the tennis courts in Glen Arbor fill throughout the day.

Part of the annual Glen Arbor Tennis Tournament in late June was played on the Leelanau School courts. According to Fowler, the Township spent approximately $30,000 since last year to re-line and re-surface the tennis courts. New nets were hung in mid-June.

“It’s a win-win for the school, because kids coming to play tennis will also see the school,” said Fowler. “The school wants to be more involved in the community.”

The Park Commission also made a deal with Leelanau to establish pickleboard courts in the school gymnasium on Monday and Wednesday nights and Saturday mornings. Local tennis guru Tim Sutherland may also offer pickleball lessons at the gym.

“We are excited about the resurfaced tennis courts because it gives our students and those on campus for summer camp experiences another healthy physical activity,” said Julie Povolo, the Leelanau School’s director of development. “The courts will also draw visitors to our campus, thereby building awareness of our beautiful school with local and visiting tennis and pickleball players.”

The Leelanau School is one mile northeast of Glen Arbor on M-22. Enter campus on One Old Homestead Road, and look for signs that will lead you toward the gym and the tennis courts.