Tennis pavilion memorializes alumnus
The addition of the Peter Hughes VandenBerg Tennis Pavilion vaults Kenyon into the ranks of elite collegiate tennis facilities.
The two-level pavilion will be dedicated on Saturday, April 25, after the completion of the men's North Coast Athletic Conference championship and before the women's conference tournament. The new pavilion, centered in the twelve-court outdoor complex, and the David W. Jasper Tennis Center in the Kenyon Athletic Center make a rare and winning combination of outdoor and indoor facilities, said Scott Thielke, head men's and women's coach.
The pavilion dedication will brim with emotion. The facility is named for the 1980 graduate who was named the most valuable player on the Lords tennis team that year. VandenBerg died of cancer in May 2008. Contributions for construction of the pavilion were made by VandenBerg family members and friends. His son, William '10, is on the tennis team.
"Peter VandenBerg was revered as an athlete at Kenyon and beloved as an alumnus," said President S. Georgia Nugent. "His untimely passing was a sad loss to his family and friends and to his alma mater. With the dedication of the VandenBerg tennis pavilion, many of Peter's family members and friends have joined together to offer a very fitting tribute to him on the Kenyon campus."
"It's bittersweet," said Peter's widow, Nancy Todd VandenBerg '81 of Milwaukee, Wisconsin. "We're so happy to be able to provide a wonderful facility, and we wish we could have done it with Peter watching."
The couple met while students. "I thought he was a great player with a great set of legs," Nancy said. "Kenyon has been a wonderful part of my whole life," she added. "I married a Kenyon guy. And the support we have received from Peter's Kenyon friends has been amazing."
Peter had discussed the need for a pavilion before his diagnosis.
The 1,408-square-foot pavilion provides a covered viewing area, a water source, restrooms, and storage. Internet service means the College can provide live online scoring with the potential of adding live video during matches.
"It's a real benefit to us," Thielke said. "There are probably only a dozen schools in the country that have such nice facilities, both indoors and outdoors." With its number of courts and the quality of its facilities, Kenyon expects to host the conference tournament every three years and will also host NCAA tournament events.
"The VandenBerg family has been connected to Kenyon for generations," he said. "Their dedication to Kenyon is obvious and their dedication to the tennis program has just been exemplary."
Chris VandenBerg '78 of Grand Rapids, Michigan, played with his brother on the tennis team and has played a role in developing the pavilion. He and his wife, Elizabeth Neubig, are the parents of Kenyon student Monica VandenBerg '10. "This is something that he actually thought about and talked about," Chris said of his brother. "This is what he wanted. It's a good thing."
Peter was a patient and steady tennis player, which suited his personality, Chris said. "He really enjoyed tennis, and he enjoyed Kenyon tennis absolutely. Many of his closest friends are from Kenyon."
Peter earned a master's in business administration at the New York University Stern School of Business and enjoyed a career in financial services. "He was just a vital person," Chris said.
The pavilion is on track for completion on April 25.