and officially open the new facility named for him.
“This will be something my family – and hopefully generations of my family – will remember. Nothing compares to this,” said Randy Stephens, recognizing and thanking his family for their support and to the people in the audience that had an impact on his life and career and on the tennis community. “I can’t tell you how much this means to me and my family.”
“There is no more deserving person to have facility named for than Randy Stephens,” said Jaime Kaplan, local tennis professional and Macon Area Tennis Association Board Member, talking about the impact he had on her career and how well he is known in the tennis community around the world. Speaking directly to Mr. Stephens, she said, “Your love of this game knows no bounds, and we are lucky you’ve chosen to make Macon your home for over 35 years.”
“This feels like old home to me since I’ve played tennis since I was 16, and there’s no better sight than seeing people play tennis in the background,” said District 4 Commissioner Mallory Jones, who sponsored the Resolution to have the facility named for Randy Stephens. “Randy has given so much of his life to tennis here in Macon. He’s been such a great advocate, such a great promoter of tennis for our youth.”
“Randy Stephens has been a mentor to me as a person and a tennis professional for most of my adult life,” said Bobby Walker, Macon-Bibb Interim Tennis Manager, before talking about how Stephens had increased the tournaments, built up the tennis talent in the region, and helped grow the sport. Through this new facility and the improved facilities at John Drew Smith Tennis Center and Tattnall Square Park, “I want to make tennis and pickleball available to people who don’t normally think of those sports as accessible to them.”
“The South Bibb Recreation Center is already, in my opinion, the crown jewel of Macon-Bibb County; we are blessed to have this facility here,” said District 7 Commissioner-elect Bill Howell. “Today’s dedication and ribbon cutting is a great example of how the Macon-Bibb Commission is committed to our residents to provide recreation facilities to all our constituents.”
This phase of construction included the new Tennis Center 19 new full-size tennis courts (bringing the total to 23), eight smaller courts for pickleball or junior tennis, four pavilions, a new splash pad that will be turned on in the Spring, a freestanding restroom building to serve the splash pad, completion of the walking trail, and a playground to be installed later in the spring or summer. This phase of construction was funded with $4,425,000 from the voter-approved Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax (SPLOST).
“It’s exciting to look out beyond this facility and see houses upon houses that are no doubt full of potential tennis players,” said Jamie Kaplan, local tennis pro, pointing out that by adding these new courts and facility, there are already more tennis and pickleball competitions coming to Middle Georgia. “According to Visit Macon, these tournaments have a three and a half million dollar economic impact per year. It’s only fitting that a facility of this magnitude, of this beauty, and serving so many to be named for our very own Randy Stephens.”
Board Member Jaime Kaplan unveil the plaque honoring Randy Stephens.