Richard L. Cretella Tennis Center Opens with Dedication Remarks, Open Play
The dedication and official opening of the Richard L. Cretella Tennis Center kicked off a new era for Vassar’s men’s and women’s tennis teams. The new facility was made possible thanks to the Richard Cretella Trust, administered by Cretella’s sister Virginia Mars ʼ51, Pʼ82, GPʼ04, ʼ07; Mindy Mayer Pʼ92, in memory of her son Eric M. Smith ʼ92, a member of the men’s tennis team for four years and who now has a court named after him; Chrysoula Dosiou Pʼ22 and Andreas Stavropoulos Pʼ22, who named a court after their daughter Melina Stavropoulos ʼ22; Georgia Carrington ʼ58; and Peter Frey ʼ82.
“I can confidently say that Vassar now has one of the very best outdoor tennis facilities among our peer schools in the northeast,” Michelle Walsh, Director of Athletics and Physical Education at Vassar, said. “That makes such a big difference because it helps us to recruit outstanding scholar-athletes to the campus—students who excel in the classroom, on the court, and who contribute in so many different ways to our campus community.”
The Richard L. Cretella Tennis Center, built on the former Ballentine Field, has eight tennis courts made with “post-tension” concrete underneath which is made to last at least 20 years, new spectator seating, and storage for team equipment. A new scoreboard will also be installed soon. The courts are conveniently located directly adjacent to Walker Field House, providing the teams with access to locker rooms, indoor courts, and sports medicine facilities.
Before the center, the teams had to take a roughly 15-minute walk from Walker Field House to the courts along Raymond Avenue, away from the locker rooms as well as the training and sports medicine facilities. Now, the teams have a 2-minute walk from the field house and its amenities.
“On behalf of both the men’s and the women’s tennis teams, we are so incredibly grateful for this amazing state-of-the-art tennis facility,” Tina McDermott, head men’s tennis coach, said. “We’re just so very proud to practice and compete here. We want to thank the donors again for their support and generosity.”
Mars, encouraged by her daughters, created annuity trusts in both of her brothers’ names. When her older brother, Albert W. Cretella Jr., passed, a scholarship was created in his name. After Richard Cretella’s passing in October 2022, Mars and her daughters had a need for the trust to fund something for the College and the College had a need for new tennis courts. This was perfect as Cretella was an avid tennis player, passing his knowledge and love for the game on to his children and his sister.
“To me, it’s very fitting that a tennis center should be named for him because he would be one of the first ones to be pleased that that was what the money was used for,” Mars said. “The tennis courts needed to be moved and they needed to be where the sports center, the old one, is and a new one will hopefully be built.”
Upon seeing the courts for the first time, Mars said “It’s wonderful, beautiful, impressive. How many settings do you get like this for tennis?”
The teams and coaches are celebrating the new courts, too.
“It’s the best facility by far I’ve ever had the opportunity to work on in my 26 years,” women’s head coach Marty Perry said. “From day one, the team is playing better. It’s a huge help to the success of the programs and for recruiting.”
“The first day we practiced on the courts, our coach (Perry) was saying we were a different team,” Macey Dowd ʼ25, a member of the women’s team, said. “They’re a good source for recruiting.”
“It’s a big step up from the old courts,” men’s team member Jay Wong ʼ24 added. “We’ve had a breakthrough and this gives us bigger potential to recruit and to host tournaments.”
Members of both teams said the new courts will provide a much better spectator experience and give the coaches better access to the players during practice.
“It’s my last year and I’m going to enjoy every moment of it,” Benjamin Almquist ʼ24, a member of the men’s tennis team, said. “It’s beautiful. It really enhances the practice and match experience.”
As the Walker Field House shows its age, the new tennis courts, according to President Bradley are “our first, and most recent step, toward strengthening the vision for Vassar Athletics broadly.
“Having those courts really starts us on our way to the larger replacement that we need,” Bradley continued. “So, so much more to look forward to in the program.”
Updating Vassar’s sports and recreation center and programs is a key component of the Fearlessly Consequential campaign. Learn more about the campaign and the College’s greatest needs by visiting campaign.vassar.edu.