A major gift from Earlham College graduate Randal Sadler and his wife, Melissa, is serving up a return of men’s and women’s NCAA Division III tennis on campus.
As a result, the College will resurface its six varsity tennis courts and four recreational playing surfaces. The recreational courts will be optimized for dual use as tennis and pickleball courts, in response to student interest. The College will launch a search for coaching staff immediately, in anticipation of resuming competition in the Heartland Collegiate Athletic Conference in fall 2022.
“At the height of the COVID pandemic last spring, we were forced to look for ways to reduce expenses without disrupting the classroom experience, and tennis was among the programs that were affected,” Earlham President Anne Houtman said. “As we begin to emerge from the pandemic, Randal and Melissa are enthusiastically stepping in and filling a significant void by ensuring the long-term sustainability of this program. I can’t thank them enough for their partnership and longstanding commitment to the success of our college.”
Randal Sadler graduated from Earlham in 1973 and was a celebrated pitcher on the Quakers’ best baseball teams of that era — and in the history of the college, becoming one the College’s leaders for earned run average. He and Melissa are among Earlham’s most ardent and generous advocates, especially in athletics. In 2012, the family made a major gift to the College in support of a new baseball facility on south campus. Randal R. Sadler Stadium was built during the summer of 2013 and hosted the Heartland Collegiate Athletic Conference Baseball Tournament in 2017.
The owners of a par-three golf course in the Cincinnati area, the Sadlers also made a major gift in 2020 to ensure the long-term sustainability of the College’s men’s and women’s golf programs.
Their support for varsity tennis — which has the potential to attract current and prospective students to the teams — will allow Earlham to move forward with construction and renovation beginning next June. Courts will be usable by August 2022.
“Melissa and I are honored to continue our support for Earlham athletics by bringing tennis back to prominence as an official NCAA sport while expanding recreational interest in the sport on campus,” Randal Sadler said. “We recognize the value that athletics have in shaping the student experience, and look forward to jump-starting a new beginning for a sport that has broad appeal.”
Earlham Director of Athletics Adam Hutchinson expects a swift return to competitive play with excellent mentor-coaches and full rosters.
“Tennis is growing in popularity at colleges and universities across the country, especially at institutions like Earlham that attract students from all over the world,” Hutchinson said. “The Sadler’s generosity will help us recruit future Earlhamites who are seeking an outstanding student-athlete experience. It also will generate interest among current students eager to return to play.”
A math and physics major at Earlham who later earned a Master’s of Education and an MBA both from Xavier University (OH), Randal Sadler serves as the chief operating officer of PROWARE, an Ohio-based corporation focused on providing information technology to medium and large courts since 1985.
In addition, the innovative entrepreneur is a real estate developer, a financial adviser, stockbroker and owner of several small businesses.