Bratton Indoor Tennis Center
The Bratton Tennis Center, named in honor of former Whitman College president Walter A. Bratton, opened for use in February, 1996, on the Whitman campus.
The $1.2 million indoor facility was funded in large part by a $410,000 gift from Bratton's grandson, Walter A. "Jerry" Bratton, of Olympia.
The balance of the project was donated specifically for the center, primarily by the Bratton family, former students of President Bratton, and former tennis players at Whitman.
Located on Boyer Avenue between Touchet and Tucannon streets, the 28,000-square-foot masonry building houses four indoor courts, dressing rooms, rest rooms and a balcony area where people can observe matches in progress.
The Bratton Center, in addition to its use by the men's and women's varsity tennis teams, provides a year-around setting for intramural tennis competition, physical education courses and recreational tennis.
When the tennis center opened in 1996, it immediately filled a definite need on campus, noted Jerry Bratton, a 1960 Whitman graduate who was Northwest Conference singles and doubles champion in 1958 and 1959. "I think an indoor tennis facility was past due on campus, and the community and the college will get a lot of good out of it," Bratton said, adding that the facility should help in efforts to recruit student athletes for Whitman's varsity tennis teams.
Before the Bratton Center opened, inclement weather often forced Whitman teams and their opponents to drive 50 miles to the Tri-Cities, where the nearest indoor facilities are available, to finish or play matches.
Janice Abraham, who was Whitman treasurer when the Bratton Center opened, noted that an "indoor tennis facility has been a priority for a long time, and this generous gift from Jerry Bratton, along with generosity of others, has made it possible."
The tennis center honors a man who served Whitman from 1895 until 1942 in a variety of roles, including tennis coach, mathematics professor, dean and president. Bratton was Whitman's president from 1936 through 1942.
The Bratton family has a special and long-standing connection with Whitman tennis. President Bratton coached, and members of his family who played tennis for Whitman is a long one -- his son, Robert, a 1924 graduate; his grandsons, Robert, a 1953 graduate, and Jerry, a 1960 graduate; and his great-granddaughter Nancy, a 1986 graduate and Jerry Bratton's daughter.
With numerous Bratton family members on hand, formal dedication ceremonies for the Bratton Tennis Center were held on April 20, 1996.
When the sun is shining and the weather pleasant, Whitman College varsity tennis teams and other members of the Whitman community have the option of playing on the campus outdoor courts, which underwent major renovation in 1990 through the generosity of two of Whitman's former tennis champions. For that story, click here.