MCB Tennis Foundation Grows Local Love For Tennis
In 1953, Maureen Connolly Brinker made history when she became the first woman to win all four grand slam tennis tournaments in the same calendar year. A year later, she was injured in a horseback riding accident and was forced to retire from tennis. Brinker spent the remainder of her life promoting the game, especially to younger generations. In 1968, she co-founded the Maureen Connolly Brinker Tennis Foundation, an organization dedicated to educating future players and giving everyone a chance to experience the joy of tennis.
Today, Wichita is home to one of the longest remaining chapters of this organization. Our local MCB Tennis Foundation of Kansas chapter has been active for the past 45 years and remains highly involved in the community through fundraisers, tournaments and educational outreach.
The MCB Tennis Foundation of Kansas has played a large role in the success of the USTA Net Generation program throughout the Wichita area.
“Last year, MCB provided tennis camps and lessons for 960 local youth and additionally reached many thousands more by collaborating with USTA in the Net Generation program, which rolled out to the USD 259 school district,” said Julie Ryan, the current chair of the MCB Tennis Foundation of Kansas. “MCB’s role in the Net Generation program was to fund each school’s USTA membership and help coordinate training to the P.E. teachers.”
The foundation serves as a backbone for our tennis community and has been working to improve opportunities for tennis locally. They are currently working to launch a major expansion project that will improve Wichita Park & Recreation’s Ralph Wulz Riverside Tennis Center.
“The organization has saved a small percentage of its funds for 42 years with a long-time goal to expand the area’s public tennis facilities and culture. These funds have been saved consistently by the efforts of many women who have served throughout the long tenure of MCB existence,” Ryan said. “Our hope is that a facility expansion will allow Wichita to host more USTA tournaments and generate even more enthusiasm for the healthy lifestyle of tennis.”
Even with exciting projects in the works, the MCB Tennis Foundation of Kansas has experienced setbacks from the COVID-19 pandemic. Social distancing restrictions have put limitations on their annual tennis programs, but it hasn’t been enough to keep them from sharing the love of the game.
“COVID has certainly delayed plans and tennis programs but will not stop MCB programs or the enthusiasm of our board to support them,” Ryan said. “Because of program delays and social distancing requirements, the number of kids participating will not be as great this year, but the Wichita support for our programs remains strong.”
Ryan herself is an avid sports enthusiast, participating in basketball and volleyball. She later picked up tennis and fell in love with the social community it brings. As a former volleyball and basketball coach, Ryan was drawn to the MCB Tennis Foundation because it allowed her to be involved with the youth of the sport.
“The purpose of MCB is to support and encourage the development of skills for a healthy lifestyle by providing tennis exposure and equipment to local kids that may not otherwise experience the joy of this sport,” Ryan said. “It is an honor for me to be a part of it.”
For more information, you can check out the official website of the MCB Tennis Foundation of Kansas, or find out more about USTA Net Generation programming and how you can be involved in growing the game.