Sara Rasmussen Awarded Gold Star For Outstanding Provider Work
2020 is the 100th anniversary of USTA, and to celebrate, USTA Missouri Valley is recognizing 100 outstanding members of our local tennis communities through monthly Gold Star awards. One of June’s winners is Sara Rasmussen, director of Riverside Tennis Center in Wichita, Kansas.
Rasmussen’s work through Riverside Tennis Center has had a major impact on the city’s tennis programming. She was named the Youth Tennis Provider of the Year by Tennis Industry Magazine in 2019 and has won several awards for her work with the center, including Facility of the Year and Outstanding Junior Tournament. Rasmussen has built a reputation for increasing play opportunities and getting new players out on the courts.
“She serves as a community partner to 25 schools in the Wichita area and was very well-deserving of being awarded the Youth Tennis Provider of the Year,” said Community Tennis Manager Lindsay Hall. “As busy as Sara is, she seems to do everything with grace.”
COVID-19 hit pause on many of the upcoming projects at Riverside Tennis Center, but Rasmussen and her team have been working hard to get things rolling again.
“We were shut down for about two and a half months. Amanda and I were able to come back in early and get everything ready,” Rasmussen said. “We’ve been working on summer programming and adjustments that needed to be made with the restrictions in place, so we were lucky that we had about two weeks to get things ready before the facility opened back up.”
Rasmussen has continued to find ways to keep tennis programs accessible while following the local COVID-19 restrictions and guidelines. On top of making changes to their programming, she also worked on launching a new registration system that will allow players to reserve courts or sign up for lessons online.
“It’s been interesting. We’ve made a lot of changes to our center, and we’ve also been applying for a lot of grants,” Rasmussen said. “USTA has been on top of that, helping with equipment costs. There’s been a lot of resources for us as we’ve opened back up.”
The center has plans for major renovations that will resurface the current tennis and pickleball courts, add new courts, and install new seating and lighting. They will also be providing summer tennis camps at all six parks and recreation centers throughout the city. Both of these initiatives will be completed in partnership with the Maureen Connelly Brinker Tennis Foundation of Kansas.
“Our biggest goal is increasing programming and getting more people playing here at Riverside, especially with the expansion of our facility,” Rasmussen said. “That’s what we’re focusing on next- the programs that we can grow and things we can add in.”
Rasmussen began her tennis journey in middle school. She competed at Valley Center High School and went on to play for Friend’s University. She says her favorite part of being the director at Riverside Tennis Center is the variety of programming she gets to be a part of and the community impact they have. When she isn’t working to spread the joy of tennis, she can be found running, playing pickleball, or hanging out with her husband and their dog.
USTA Kansas is proud to recognize Rasmussen with the Gold Star Award. You can check the official list of section winners here. For more about Rasmussen and her work, check out our previous Q & A interview.