Jack’s Court Was Dedicated Saturday

He will speak on the future at graduation
Jack Louchheim’s thank-you list was a long one. Jack Graves

Jack Louchheim, who may well lead East Hampton High School’s boys tennis team next spring as a freshman, capped a big week Saturday by dedicating a new QuickStart tennis court that he had had built at the Bridgehampton Child Care and Recreation Center. 

Bonnie Michelle Cannon, the center’s executive director, said as the crowd gathered for the ribbon-cutting ceremony that the young Sagaponack resident (then an eighth grader at Sag Harbor’s middle school) had come to her last fall with the suggestion that a small court might be built there so the center’s 5-to-8-year-olds could be taught the game by him and some of his friends. 

“We walked the grounds, and there was this slab of asphalt next to our basketball court — I don’t know what it had been used for — and he said a nice youth tennis court could go there.”

She wished him godspeed, and, in quick order, the young man began a fund-raising effort that eventually netted the $50,000 required to build the fenced court and an equipment shed, thus launching his Bridgehampton Youth Tennis Project.

“I’m going to hire him,” she said, with a smile, as this writer hailed his enterprising, generous spirit.

During remarks he made before the ribbon was cut, Louchheim, who also is a volunteer math tutor at the center, said he would not have been able to see the project through without the help of others, many of whom were there that day, who had provided “money, services, publicity, support, and cooperation.”

He thanked Cannon “for approving this far-fetched idea nine months ago, for being by my side since then, helping tremendously in handling the checks and the money, while at the same time managing the wonderful programs here at the center. I believe this is a very special place, and I feel lucky to now be a part of it.”

Besides Cannon, his thank-you list included his mother and father, the center’s board of trustees, headed by Paul Jeffers, Jim Buehler and his ProCorM staff of Westhampton Beach, builders of the court, Saunders & Associates, Sue and Ravi Yadav, the S. Pope Babcock Foundation, the Andrew Sabin Family Foundation, Taylor Thomas, Ally Friedman, John Muse of Liberty Landscaping, Goldberg’s Famous Bagels, Pierre’s restaurant, Hampton Chutney Company, Fisher Signs & Shirts, Gustavo Loza Padilla, Tennis East, and Southampton’s supervisor, Jay Schneiderman, and its building inspector, Michael Benincasa.

Of the late Stephenson Pope Babcock, Louchheim said, “I myself was not lucky enough to know Pope, but from his family and acquaintances I get the sense that he and I might have been good friends based on his passions. Like myself, Pope loved Bridgehampton, being outdoors, the ocean, and playing tennis. He also loved people. . . . I’d like to think that he would have approved of this endeavor, especially since it teaches young children to play a sport that they might not otherwise have the opportunity to learn.”

This July and August, Jack and a half-dozen tennis-playing friends — Ravi MacGurn, Taylor Thomas, Ally Friedman, Rebecca Kuperschmid, and Dylan Green among them — will give tennis lessons four mornings a week to 5-through-8-year-olds on the youth court, using foam and low-compression balls and small rackets.

Louchheim’s mother, Summer, said it had been quite a week for her son: Not only was there the tennis court dedication that morning, but “last night, in a U.S.T.A. tournament at the Ross School, he had a breakthrough, defeating an opponent he’d never beaten before. . . . His 15th birthday was Wednesday, and he’s one of three eighth graders who are to speak on ‘the past, the present, and future’ at graduation. Jack’s topic is the future.”