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Larry Ellison Puts Plans in Motion to Build a Tennis Academy on Lana'i
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Lana'i City, Hawaii is 4,700 miles due west of Orlando, Fla. While the USTA is constructing a $60 million facility with 100 courts in the Lake Nona area of Orlando to be the "New Home for American Tennis", Oracle co-founder and chairman, Larry Ellison, has plans of his own to make a Hawaiian island best known for pineapples the next big thing for American tennis.

Larry Ellison plans to build an elite tennis academy on Lana'i
© Rick Limpert
I have to believe that Ellison has seen the movie Field of Dreams, and heard the "if you build it, he will come" chant coming from the cornfields. Now, some might say that same chant is coming from the former pineapple fields of this 140 sq. mile island.

Lana'i, the smallest publicly accessible of the inhabited Hawaiian Islands is home to about 3,100 permanent residents. About 98% of the land on Lana'i is owned by an admitted tennis fanatic in Ellison. Ellison wants people to come to Lana'i, and he's making improvements to welcome tourists and sports enthusiasts.

What was once 18,000 acres of Dole pineapple fields is turning into a modern tourist destination with Four Seasons Resorts, a championship golf course in the Manele Golf Course and an improved infrastructure that could be the ideal setting for a full-time tennis academy set on 50 acres just outside of the island's only incorporated city, Lana'i City.

Yes, Ellison's critics call him crazy, but who's to argue with what he has done in the world of sports, specifically tennis.

Sports are Ellison's passion, and he has channeled that passion into sailing when he dominated the America's Cup, and into tennis when he bought what is now regarded as "Tennis' 5th Major" in the BNP Paribas Open and the Indian Wells Tennis Garden for $100 million in 2009. He has invested another $100 since then, and it has become one of the top professional tennis tournaments in the world with facilities everyone else tries to keep up with in terms of prize money, technology and fan experience.

Ellison also has been a supporter of college tennis, and with Oracle he is putting his money and name behind a couple major college tournaments, the Intercollegiate Tennis Association itself, and possibly an American tennis circuit which would be a new take on minor league tennis in the States.

But back to the wind-swept beaches and Cook pine tree-lined roads of an island that doesn't have one traffic light.

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