KEARNEY, NE — With the snip of scissors and the swing of a racket, the Ernest Grundy Tennis Center is officially open.

On Thursday, community leaders in Kearney cut the ribbon on the new facility, which opened to the public last month. It’s a 62,000 square-foot facility that features a mezzanine viewing area and houses the Kearney Parks and Recreation offices. The six full-size courts are top-of-the-line too.

“We got a nine-layer court surface, it’s kind of a soft surface," Parks and Recreation Director Scott Hayden said. "You won’t necessarily feel any sponginess, but it is easier on your legs.”

Hayden says the $8.7 million project was jump-started by a $7 million anonymous gift. The city secured a $1.2 million civic center financing grant from the state and will share operating expenses with the University of Nebraska at Kearney.

“It doesn’t happen, a facility like this, if you just want to do it by yourself," Hayden said. "It’s just too hard to make it happen and it’s hard to operate it. To have that teamwork in place really gives the facility some strength.”

Hayden says the facility is opening at a good time, with individual sports surging in popularity thanks to the pandemic.

“People found tennis. It’s an excellent workout for one, but it’s also a very social sport. It’s one people can get hooked on easily,” Hayden said.

The tennis center will serve as the home courts for UNK’s team and is open to the public. People can book courts through the free CourtReserve app.

The facility is named after Ernest Grundy, a former UNK professor who was heavily involved in the local tennis community. His daughter cut the ribbon on Thursday.