Tennis has a long and illustrious history at 40th and Nicollet. The first 12 courts were installed in 1946 – 1950 as the Minneapolis Tennis Club, managed by Jack Bruce. In 1960, the West High tennis coach lined his team up at the old Nicollet hitting wall and after watching the players, named star player John Ribnick Captain and Number One singles player. John is Permanent Court Time and League Manager today at Reed Sweatt. John is originator of the “Ribnick” method of league scoring and rules of play that we use today. Mary Baker led the Nicollet Junior Wightman Cup squad to the State Championships in 1959. Mary has been working at the Center since the 1970’s and is today the Women’s Daytime League Manager, and keeper of the secret formula for “Nicollet Nectar” – she will never tell!
The Minneapolis Tennis Club served as the host site for the National Public Parks Tournament in 1953 and 1961. In the late 1950’s a Davis Cup qualifying match between Australia and Chile was played here. Many will testify to the fact that Minneapolis Tennis Club was the hub of tennis activity for the best players in the Twin Cities for many years.
The trajectory of play took a turn in 1973, when, in an adventurous and entrepreneurial spirit, Jack Johnson secured agreement from the Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board to install air structures to cover the courts and make them indoor, year-round opportunities for play. Many might have wondered if year-round tennis could really take off in Minneapolis, but Jack Johnson’s Nicollet Tennis Center, affectionately known even today as “Nicollet” turned heads in the tennis community. Jack’s Nicollet Tennis Center was bustling until 2000, when InnerCity Tennis Foundation purchased the business, leasing the courts and land from the Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board.
In honor of the founders of InnerCity Tennis, Lachlan Reed, Harold Sweatt and Martha Sweatt Reed, the tennis facility was re-named the Reed Sweatt Family Tennis Center. With ICT’s mission of youth development and empowerment, the concept of family has been and will always be important to our tennis identity. Although Martha and Lachlan Reed are now deceased, InnerCity Tennis honors their legacy by retaining the name Reed Sweatt.