The main facility for the ACTA is the Yarbrough Tennis Center located on Richland Road off of Shug Jordan Parkway. The facility is also the official home courts for the Auburn University men and women’s tennis teams.
Having both the City of Auburn and the University take part in building and funding the Yarbrough Tennis Center gave the facility an edge over others since students and local residents area use it.
The facility was built in 13 months, and it now has 34 indoor and outdoor courts with different surfaces. USTA Southern Section Executive Director John Callen said the facility is great for everyone whether they play tennis or not.
“It’s a perfect tennis facility and a testament to what can happen when a city and university work together,” Callen said. “It will bring added revenue to local restaurants and stores. It’s good for everybody.”
The director of the Yarbrough Tennis Center, Travis DeBardelaben, is the engine that keeps tennis tournaments for the Auburn area running.
DeBardelaben is also responsible for heading up the Bullfrog Tournament, which is a youth tennis tournament that brings kids from all over the South to compete and improve their techniques.
DeBardelaben expects more than 400 people to participate in the next Bullfrog Tournament.
“We’re doing anything and everything to get our name out there,” DeBardelaben said. “We have a great facility over off Richland Road, but hardly anyone knows about it.”
DeBardelaben wants to keep the growth of tennis coming in Auburn. His association has added more than 3,000 participants in their leagues since DeBardelaben became director.
“Tennis works great with a lot of people’s schedules because it’s a year-round sport, unlike everything else that has seasons,” DeBardelaben said. “We’ve got 34 courts with tri-level leagues that last all year, and it’s a safe environment for kids."
According to DeBardelaben, the United States Tennis Association runs the leagues.
“We have to thank the Auburn-Opelika Tourism Board and the City of Auburn for helping us grow as large as we’ve become,” DeBardelaben said.
DeBardelaben also said Auburn is one of the largest tennis communities per capita.
“With the little amount of people we have in Auburn, it’s great to have so many kids and adults come out and learn about tennis,” DeBardelaben said.
DeBardelaben, a former Auburn student, moved back to Auburn after the ACTA and the city of Auburn contacted him for his work in Bambridge, Ga.
“I was playing at Auburn from 1988 to 1990,” DeBardelaben said. “After six years in Montgomery and Georgia, faith had it that I went in a circle and wound back up at Auburn.”
DeBardelaben said he wants to make an easy environment for people to meet other tennis players, which inspired his idea for the Yarbrough Tennis Center monthly Friday mixer. The ACTA has also hosted football tailgates.
Since DeBardelaben became the director of the Yarbrough Tennis Center, he has made a name for himself in Alabama’s tennis community. Information about the ACTA has become more readily available by adding a website, t-shirts and hosting area-wide tournaments such as the Bullfrog Tournament.
With its growth in the last four years, the ACTA was named the Alabama Community Tennis Association of the Year in 2009. In 2010, DeBardelaben was named the Alabama Tennis Professional of the Year.
There’s plenty of talent and leadership within Auburn’s tennis community. Now, DeBardelaben just needs more players.