Gonzales — Emma Mauch, 2, may be too young to play tennis, but that didn’t stop her from running around the Gonzales Municipal Tennis Courts on Saturday just minutes after one of the courts was named in honor of her great-grandmother, Gloria Berthelot.
Emma was one of more than 60 friends and relatives of Berthelot and Gonzales tennis legends Frank Thomas and Allen Guillot who gathered for the official unveiling of the plaques signifying the new names of three courts.
Former Gonzales City Councilman and Ascension Tennis Association member Joe Waguespack, who led the ceremony, credited the longtime tennis players with growing the sport in Gonzales and assisting the city in its court expansion projects over the years.
Berthelot, a co-founder and former president of the association, said the association formed 13 years ago after a few tennis players met at a Gonzales restaurant.
While the city had four tennis courts, “they were in poor condition,” she said.
“There were no lights, no water and no bathrooms,” Berthelot said. “When we played tennis our balls would roll into the streets and ditches.”
The association, which included Berthelot, Thomas and Guillot, began asking the City Council for improvements each year during the budget process, Waguespack said.
The three courts dedicated Saturday were part of a $700,000 court expansion project that also included a storage building and a practice court.
Today, Berthelot said, the city provides 14 courts, lights, fences and bathrooms for tennis players at the Meylan Drive complex.
As the number of courts has grown, so to, Berthelot said, has the association.
ATA offers 10 programs for adults, teens and children, including two tournaments each year and support for three high school tennis teams.
Waguespack, who served as recreation commissioner during his tenure on the council, said the council decided to name the new courts in honor of the three people who pushed for tennis “as a lifelong sport for all the residents of Gonzales and the parish.”
Guillot has been a volunteer in Gonzales since 1977, serving on the city’s planning commission for several years.
Guillot participated in regional, state and several national Senior Olympic Games, racking up 26 gold, 20 silver and 11 bronze medals.
Guillot’s Monday tennis partner, Thomas, has volunteered with various city projects since 1991.
Thomas has accumulated more than 52 medals at Senior Olympic Games throughout the years.
Berthelot, who lives outside the city, also was named an honorary resident of Gonzales.
“ATA is the secret to all of this,” Waguespack said during the presentation, which was held at noon on the courts.
“We had the money and the votes, but we didn’t have the expertise,” Waguespack said. “We couldn’t have done it without them.”
Berthelot said tennis adds “years to your life and keeps you young.”