For decades now, since the days when Willie du Pont’s sprawling Bellevue estate was first opened to the public, Delaware tennis players of all ages have enjoyed hitting the beautiful Bellevue State Park courts for tournaments, league play and weekend fun.
Du Pont was a tennis enthusiast who married one of the great champions of all time, Margaret Osborne, holder of a pocket filled with no less than 37 Grand Slam titles. He devoted a few pennies of his fortune to building a world-class tennis center at his Brandywine Hundred spread, where following their 1947 marriage his wife tuned up her game on both the outdoor (first grass, then clay) and indoor courts.
The Bellevue State Park indoor tennis facility stands no more, the victim of time, neglect and budgets. But the outdoor courts – eight of them on har-tru (clay) surface, gloriously sited on the property – have remained an important fixture of the northern Delaware tennis scene.
Operation of the Bellevue tennis center may soon be changing hands, according to our sources. The Division of Natural Resources and Environmental Control (DNREC), which oversees the state park system, has recently put out an RFP for management of the facility, with all bids due by March 17. At that point, the state has 90 days to make a decision on any new operator.
Local tennis nuts are hopeful that the winning bid includes a renewed commitment to host USTA events and league matches, which have been limited in recent years. Watch this space for future updates.