LEE -- Kathy and Mike DeVarennes praise the Lee Community Tennis Association for helping their son become a successful standout on the local hard courts.
Nearly a decade ago, 18-year-old Tanner DeVarennes began to develop his competitive edge thanks to Lee CTA instruction and immediate exposure to tournament play, according to his parents.
Tanner would go on to become one of Berkshire County's top youth singles players and lead the Lee High School boys tennis team to the Western Mass. finals two of the last three years.
"The [Lee CTA] coaches spent many hours working with him," said Mike DeVarennes.
"Playing matches early on got him his taste for winning," added Kathy DeVarennes.
The DeVarennes were among the dozens of Lee CTA supporters on hand Sunday afternoon to help the private organization celebrate its completion of an $87,000 upgrade of the Lee High School tennis courts.
Lee CTA officials marked the occasion with a ribbon cutting ceremony followed by an outdoor reception catered by Sabrina Tan, co-owner of Flavours restaurant in Pittsfield, who lives across the street from Lee High.
The privately funded project that began in June 2012 included resurfacing the six fenced-in courts along with improved drainage around and a handicap path to the recreational facility, according to CTA administrator Clare "Bunnie" Lahey. She said the work was primarily funded by the United States Tennis Association; the USTA national, New England and Western Massachusetts entities contributed a total of almost $30,000. Lee-area businesses, such as L B Corp. and individual CTA members provided either in-kind services or direct financial support.
The CTA's effort drew accolades from John Perry, veteran head coach of the Lee High boys tennis team, whose players will benefit from the improved courts.
"I've never in all my years seen such a first-class facility on the high school level," Perry said.
Lee School Committee Chairwoman Susan Harding was thankful for a project that taxpayers couldn't afford.
"It wouldn't have even made it onto our radar," noted Harding. "This is huge for the community ... and without Bunnie's persistence it would have never been done."
While the 13-year-old courts are town-owned, Lahey said the CTA was compelled to improve them as they had never been resurfaced.
The CTA, with 400 active youth and adult members, and the high school primarily use the courts that are also open free of charge to the general public.
"Through our group alone, we have an awful lot of people coming from all around the county to play here," Lahey said. "I just recently had a priest from the Marian Fathers [in Stockbridge] call and say he wants to get back into tennis."
To reach Dick Lindsay:
or (413) 496-6233.