By Sylvia Small

Renovation plans at Bitsy Grant Tennis Center are progressing quickly after a slow start due to the economy. Construction will begin in mid-February, according to Greg Mauldin, an Atlanta attorney and president of Friends of Bitsy Grant, a non-profit volunteer organization working to improve and maintain BGTC.

Mauldin expects the work to be completed by mid-July. The American Tennis Association will host its national tournament later that month at Bitsy Grant and several other Atlanta facilities.

Located at 2125 Northside Drive in Memorial Park, the center was named for local tennis legend Bryan “Bitsy” Grant. It is the largest public tennis facility in Atlanta. Anyone can use the 23 hard and clay courts for a small fee.

The Friends of Bitsy Grant group launched a fund-raising campaign in 2007, hoping to raise $2 million to renovate the structure.

“It was somewhat slow going” due to the economy, Mauldin said, “so the board decided to break the project into two smaller phases.”

Thanks to a contribution of approximately $500,000 from the city of Atlanta, renovation of the entire building appears feasible, Mauldin said.

Mauldin said his group needs only about another $100,000 in funds to renovate Bitsy Grant Tennis Center.

“We’re proceeding quickly at this point as if we will have all the funds in place to complete the renovation,” he said. “We’re seeking as much money as we can to close that gap.”

More than 400 individuals, companies and foundations have made donations. The nearby Springlake and Wildwood neighborhoods are planning socials in March to benefit the center.

“All of this is happening faster and better than I anticipated or imagined,” Mauldin said. “The Bitsy Grant Tennis Center is going to be a new place, and it’s going to be spectacular.”