Central Iowa Tennis Alliance Growing Grassroots Tennis
The Central Iowa Tennis Alliance officially formed in 1996 with the mission “to increase tennis participation by broadening opportunities and providing accessible programs to the community so that persons of all ages, abilities, and income levels can enjoy the sport.”
Bunny Bruning, CITA’s first president, says the idea for the alliance came about when the national USTA Community Tennis Association committee was asked to assess if the Des Moines area could be better served by a Community Tennis Association (CTA).
“Scott Hanover and Cathy Chabot from San Diego came for about a week and had meetings with several groups of tennis enthusiasts,” Bruning said. “I knew Scott from his Iowa days and Cathy was one of my hitting partners when I grew up in San Diego. So I agreed to lead a task force to form the CTA and in 1996 I was elected President.”
Bruning says that in the beginning, the association tried a little bit of everything to see what worked and what didn’t.
“We taught tennis in community centers, had a booth at Kids Fest, ran a tennis and basketball camp in a youth home, hosted tournaments and helped with scholarships,” Bruning said. “Now we mostly run tournaments and provide scholarships and equipment. We also run summer tennis programs for underserved kids.”
Shonne Webb-Bey has served as a coach for different events and projects with CITA. He echoes the association’s, and Bruning’s, strong impact on tennis in the area.
“I have known Bunny Bruning for nearly three decades and everything she does has been with passion and for the growth of tennis in Iowa,” Webb-Bey said. “[The CITA] has provided monies for equipment and fees for underprivileged children, scholarships for college tuition and created playing opportunities by creating tournaments or sustaining tournaments that otherwise would be obsolete.”
Bruning says now that the association has been successful for so long she is thinking about retirement soon, and hoping to encourage others to take over where she leaves off.
Webb-Bey says he has no doubt the association will continue long into the future.
“Through many of these opportunities mentorship has come about and tennis has flourished,” Webb-Bey said. “I most certainly believe CITA will continue to grow the game of tennis in Central Iowa.”