Leaders of half a dozen neighborhood associations around Carter Barron Park are girding for a fight to stop a plan by the Washington Tennis Patrons Foundation to expand operations at the three-year-old William H.G. Fitzgerald Tennis Center.

The foundation wants the center, built in 1987 to house the annual Sovran Bank Tennis Classic, to be used for professional boxing matches, touring circus shows and exhibition ice skating.

Foundation leaders say the expanded program would help the foundation retire a $6 million loan from the National Park Service it used to build the 7,500-seat stadium facility and 26 recreational courts on Park Service land. The facility is at 16th and Longfellow streets NW, across the parking lot from the amphitheater.

The decision is up to the National Park Service. But sources inside the Park Service said officials there are feeling pressure from several key representatives, including Rep. Norman D. Dicks (D-Wash.), who sits on the Appropriations interior subcommittee, and Sen. J. Bennett Johnston (D-La.), chairman of the Energy and Natural Resources Committee, which oversees Park Service operations.

Both were major champions of the center's construction in 1987.

"The facility needs to have other ways to raise resources. Nothing has been done that I know of other than to be supportive," Dicks said. "There is {even} an equitable case to budget {federal} money to be used by the Tennis Patrons for the reduction of their debt."

But residents say the expansion is counter to agreements made when the center was proposed.

They said the community found out about the plan only after construction had begun and they protested because of concerns about traffic, trash, open space and noise. In the end, they said, they understood that the facility would be used only for the Sovran Classic.

Some said the weeklong Sovran event in August, which draws a crowd of thousands each day, is enough of a disruption to the neighborhood.

"We got bamboozled," said Richard Fried, of the Kennedy Place Residents for Neighborhood Protection. "We didn't know how big it was going to be."

"It's just like being in a jail," said Michael Durr, who lives beside the park on Longfellow Street. "It's impossible to use the street."

Dwight Mosley, president of the Washington Tennis Patrons Foundation, said the facility's debt is inhibiting the center from carrying out its mission: "to give every child in the Washington area a chance to play tennis." Since 1956, the foundation has developed programs for 15,000 children in 28 communities across the city, he said.

Mosley acknowledged an agreement with the Park Service to hold only tennis activities there, but said $6 million in unexpected expenses during construction requires additional revenue.

And residents are crying foul.

"No one is against tennis," said Joanne Jones, a 26-year resident. "But most of us think there is too much expansion."

"We've all bailed out the S&Ls. I don't want to bail them out too," resident John Williams said.

Several residents, including Rep. Charles H. Rangel (D-N.Y.), who lives on Colorado Avenue, have sent a letter of protest to the regional director of the National Park Service. D.C. Council member Charlene Drew Jarvis (D-Ward 4) is organizing a community task force to ensure that the neighborhood is heard.

"The community is not anxious to support the expanded use of the facility," she said. "I do think there would be a tremendous negative impact."

Some parks officials said they, too, have reservations. "We have an agreement that says tennis," said Mike Brown, assistant superintendent of Rock Creek Park. "If we step over that, we've opened a Pandora's box."