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Aerial photo shows city's newest athletic facility., the Janet Jopke tennis courts in Richard Shaw Park.

READY, SET, PLAY! Alex Burke Memorial Tennis Tournament Aug. 3rd & 4th

Tennis Play Revived in Bay City After Years of Decline, Inactivity

July 30, 2019       1 Comments
By: Dave Rogers

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Throw out the new balls on the brand spanking new Janet Jopke Courts.

The 5th Annual Burke Memorial Bay County Championship Tennis Tournament is being held August 3rd and 4th at the new Janet Jopke Tennis Courts at Richard Shaw Park in Bay City. This is the first time the event will take place at the eight brand new tennis courts in Bay City.

The tournament, which has events for men, ladies, and teens, hopes to break the 100 player mark for registrations. The singles tournament takes place on Saturday, August 3rd and the doubles tournament takes place on Sunday, August 4th; matches begin both days at 9:00 a.m.

The Jopke Courts grand opening was in early June of this year and the courts have been heavily used by youth camps and adult social tennis. The Bay Community Tennis Association has partnered with the United States Tennis Association and the Dow Bay Area Family YMCA to provide age appropriate activities for tennis enthusiasts and will continue to expand offerings.

Entry forms for the tournament can be found at the tournament Facebook page:

:// or by email at or by calling 989-274-5782.

At one time there were almost 50 tennis courts in Bay City; now very few are usable. A local neighborhood had some vacant land - the school district wanted to expand their facilities - people met and said "Let's build something everyone can use." So, what started six years ago as a dream is now close to reality. This facility will provide:

Greenspace for playing, running, picnics

Eight handicap accessible tennis courts

A building with a storage room and two ADA compliant restrooms

Two parking lots

Lots of shade trees

Space for outdoor activities like yoga, Tai Chia, and dance

The tennis park will serve more functions than just tennis and because of its facilities and accessibility will serve as a gathering place for public events.

Janet was born in Bay City, Michigan, the daughter of Jerome H. Jopke and Florence E. (Weber) Jopke. She was a member of the Bay City Central High School Class of 1961, and was inducted into the Bay City Central "Hall of Fame." Her college degrees include a Bachelor of Arts from Michigan State University, a Master of Arts from Oakland University and an Education Specialist and Doctorate from Wayne State University. She taught in public schools in Bay City, Michigan, Norwalk, California, and West Bloomfield, Michigan.

She served as a reading consultant, principal, coordinator of primary programs and assistant to the superintendent in Utica, Mich. She was also the former superintendent of schools in St. Clair Shores, Michigan. In its 50 year history, Dr. Jopke was the Troy School District's longest serving superintendent, having begun her career there in 1993. Under her leadership, Troy gained a national reputation as a premier school district. Honors awarded the district under her leadership included all schools achieving Michigan Exemplary status, all schools accredited by North Central Association and both Athens and Troy high schools being named one of the 98 top high schools by the U.S. News and World Report.

Her professional activities include executive board member of the Metropolitan Bureau of School Studies, executive board member of the Tri-County Alliance, past national delegate of the American Association of School Administrators, a member of the Dean's Advisory Board and Alumni Association Board Member for the College of Education at Michigan State University, member of the Dean's Advisory Board at Oakland University and a past officer of Alpha Delta Kappa Honorary Educator's Sorority.

Her community involvement includes past member of the board of directors of Henry Ford Hospital, Northeast, past chairperson of the Downtown Development Authority in Troy, Michigan, and past member of the board of directors of the Boys' and Girls' Club.

She was selected for the Michigan State University College of Education Alumni Award for Outstanding K-12 Administrator and was given the "Distinguished Educator" award by Wayne State University College of Education Alumni Association in May 2005. She enjoyed spending leisure time at her home in Elk Rapids, Michigan. She passed away peacefully at the University of Michigan Medical Center in Ann Arbor, Michigan, after a month-long heart related illness. She is survived by her brother, Jerry Jopke, retired automotive executive; a goddaughter, Mrs. Brian (Stacie) Santhany; and a godson, Geoffrey Schwartz, all of Bay City, Mich.; as well as several cousins.

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joericard52 Says:       On July 31, 2019 at 06:10 AM
Thanks for the support, Dave!
Agree? or Disagree?

Dave Rogers

Dave Rogers is a former editorial writer for the Bay City Times and a widely read,
respected journalist/writer in and around Bay City.
(Contact Dave Via Email at

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