Central Oahu Regional Park Tennis Facility
Hawaii is unique in many ways. It is the only state comprised entirely of islands. It is the most recent state to be admitted to the Union (1959). It is the southernmost state, and its climate is entirely tropical. Hawaii also sits in the middle of the Pacific Ocean and serves as a crossroads between North America and Australasia. Hawaii offers an exciting mix of cultures and experiences, and the City and County of Honolulu wants its park system to reflect the Aloha State's dynamism.
Tennis, a sport originally established in France and Great Britain and still very popular in the Western Hemisphere, is now exploding into Asia-Pacific countries. The International Tennis Federation views Asia as the next major opportunity for growth of the sport. The Association of Tennis Professionals (ATP) season-ending championships are now held in Shanghai, China. The 100-year old Australian Open recently began to brand itself as the official Grand Slam of the Asia-Pacific. In 2004, the Chinese women's doubles team captured that nation's first gold medal in Olympic Tennis. Hawaii is anxious to capitalize on the growth of tennis among Asians and its strategic location as a tourist destination and midpoint between Asia and North America. This mindset helped drive Honolulu to promote tennis as a major focal point for the new Oahu Central Regional Park.
The American Planning Association, through its City Parks Forum, provided a Catalyst Grant for a Strategic Marketing Plan and Promotion Program for the Central Oahu Regional Park's tennis complex under Honolulu Mayor Jeremy Harris in 2003. Unlike many other Catalyst Grants, the money was not earmarked to support planning or construction. Rather, APA provided a grant to Honolulu so they could successfully promote the park as a world-class tennis facility, a bridge between East and West on the common ground of a nearly 130-year old sport whose popularity on both sides of the Pacific promises greater cultural interaction.
Honolulu used the grant to bring in The Hawaii Pacific Tennis Foundation to manage the Central Oahu Regional Park's tennis complex. Over the next three years, the foundation has promoted Hawaii's sports tourism industry, secured prestigious state and national tournaments to improve visibility of tennis in Hawaii, and supported residential recreational use of the facilities to build tennis as a more prominent sport in Oahu. In 2003, the complex was proclaimed one of 20 winners of the United States Tennis Association's (USTA) Facility Award. In 2004, the USTA National Junior Open was held at Central Oahu Regional Park for the first time. In 2005, the City and County of Honolulu diversified the park even further by building and dedicating the Veteran's Memorial Aquatic Center. The aquatic center, like the tennis complex, is now used for larger tournaments and competitions such as the Hawaii State Swimming Championships.
The Central Oahu Regional Park is an example of how a community can successfully develop a regional park for local residents and how parks can positively contribute to the regional and state economy. Even with all the facilities now featured at the park, there are plans to improve the park even further. As of August 4, 2006, there are plans to build Phase Two of the complex, including a stadium court for larger, more international tennis tournaments (www.co.honolulu.hi.us/parks/programs/tennis/centraloahu.htm).
Lester K.C. Chang, Director
Dana Takahara-Dias, Deputy Director
Honolulu Parks and Recreation Department
1000 Uluohia St., Suite 309
Kapolei, HI 96707
Images: Top — Oahu. Middle — Project Site. Bottom — Tennis court.