New courts at Buckhead tennis center to be renamed for late employee

Ralph Foster worked at Buckhead’s Bitsy Grant Tennis Center for more than three decades.

Ralph Foster worked at Buckhead’s Bitsy Grant Tennis Center for more than three decades.

For more than three decades, Ralph Foster was a fixture of Buckhead’s Bitsy Grant Tennis Center.

Now, 11 years after his death, the center’s 12 new hard tennis courts will be named for the former desk manager. The new courts, replacing the previous 10 that were demolished in July, are part of a project to renovate the adjacent Bobby Jones Golf Course.

“Ralph was the face and spirit of Bitsy Grant for decades, and we can think of no better way to pay tribute to our dear friend than by making him the namesake for our new courts,” said Dart Meadows, president of the Friends of Bitsy Grant Tennis.

Foster worked at the center from the early 1950s until he retired in the mid-1980s. He died of complications from cancer in 2007 at the age of 75.

Alexander Gutierrez with Paul Wiley Electrical works on the new tennis courts on Tuesday, August 28, 2018  will be opening at the Bitsy Grant Tennis Center in Atlanta.

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The addition of the courts was made possible by the Bobby Jones Golf Course Foundation and the support of the James M. Cox Foundation. Jim Kennedy, chairman of Cox Enterprises and the Cox Foundation, said Foster “encouraged thousands of people to get out on the courts and be active.”

“He always answered the phone ‘Tennis Center, Ralph’ so I started calling him that, and it became his nickname. He called me ‘Newspaper Jim,” Kennedy said in a press release. “He was a great guy and we are happy to name the courts in his memory.”

Cox Enterprises owns The Atlanta Journal-Constitution and other Atlanta-based companies.

A public commemorative event and dedication ceremony will be held by the Friends of Bitsy Grant Tennis and city of Atlanta on Sept. 4 at 4 p.m. Women’s and men’s bathrooms have also been added.

The new  Bobby Jones Golf Course, which opened as Atlanta's first public golf course in 1932, is expected to open in November.

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Credit: AJC

The $23,000,000 will help transform the 1932 golf course to a reversible nine-hole course, a driving range and a new clubhouse with indoor training areas and outdoor practice areas.