Whitman Dedicates Bratton Tennis Center

News release date: April 22, 1996

WALLA WALLA, Wash. -- A century after Walter A. Bratton migrated from Williams College in the East to Whitman College in the West, a $1.2 million indoor tennis facility was dedicated in his honor on April 20, 1996.

Walter Bratton, who graduated from Williams in 1895, came to Whitman as a mathematics professor and served the college in a variety of roles, including tennis coach, for nearly 50 years. He also served as dean and concluded his career as president of the college from 1936 to 1942.

The new tennis facility that bears Bratton's name incorporates four indoor courts, dressing rooms and balcony area for spectators into a 28,000-square-foot frame. It is located on Boyer Avenue between Touchet and Tucannon streets.

Construction began in the fall of 1995 and was completed early in the 2006 calendar year. The project was funded in large part by a $410,000 contribution from Bratton's grandson, Walter A. "Jerry" Bratton of Olympia, Wash.

The balance of the project was financed with contributions from the Bratton family, former students of President Bratton, former college tennis players, and Whitman alumni. Additional support came from Baker Boyer Bank, First Savings Bank and others in the Walla Walla community.

Jerry Bratton (photo below right), who graduated from Whitman in 1960, and members of his family took part in the dedication ceremonies. Bratton played tennis at Whitman and was the Northwest Conference singles and doubles champion in 1958 and 1959.

The ceremonies were followed by a series of exhibition and varsity tennis matches, as well as varsity matches between the Whitman and University of Puget Sound men's and women's teams.

Participants in the exhibition matches included members of the Bratton family and two Whitman graduates, Phil Ansdell (Class of 1989) and Brian Nash (Class of 1986), who now work as tennis teaching professionals in the Seattle area. Both Ansdell and Nash were nationally-ranked players at a time when the Whitman men's team captured three consecutive conference and NAIA district championships from 1986 through 1988.

Ansdell, a 1982 graduate of Inglemoor High School in Bothell, Wash., now works as the assistant tennis pro at the Central Park Tennis Club in Kirkland, Wash. Nash, a 1982 graduate of Newport High School in Bellevue, Wash., is the head tennis pro at the Bellevue Athletic Club.

Other members of the Bratton family who attended the dedication ceremonies included Jerry Bratton's 93-year-old mother, Alma Bratton of Olympia; his brother, Robert W. Bratton, a 1953 Whitman graduate and conference tennis champion, and sister, Nancy Bratton Paterson, both of Olympia; and his daughter Nancy A. Bratton, a 1986 Whitman graduate and nationally-ranked doubles player who shared in the school's 1985 conference championship. She now works in government relations for the Boeing Co. in Seattle.

Jerry Bratton, who at one time held part ownership in the Valley Athletic Club in Olympia, said he decided to spearhead construction of an indoor tennis facility at Whitman because it fills an obvious need. "An indoor facility is something the college has needed for many years," he said. "Both the college and community will benefit."

Jerry Bratton, whose father (Robert Bratton) also played tennis at Whitman and graduated in 1924, was born in Walla Walla and moved with his family to Olympia at a young age. He graduated from Olympia High School in 1956, and has owned Coldwell Banker-Evergreen Olympic Realty in Olympia for the past 28 years.

With several members of the Bratton family on hand for the dedication ceremonies, a scorecard was needed at times to tell one Bratton from another. The presence of one family member in particular, however, added a nice touch to the ceremony, even though he didn't attend Whitman.

Andy Bratton, Jerry Bratton's son and a recent Washington State University graduate, helped dedicate the new Walter A. Bratton Tennis Center, a building that bears his great-grandfather's name.

As you might guess, Andy is a nickname. His given name? Walter A. Bratton III.