Sara Rasmussen Reflects on Illustrious Career at Riverside Tennis Center
Sara Rasmussen, tennis director at Ralph Wulz Riverside Tennis Center in Wichita, recently announced that she will be wrapping up her time at the facility later this month. Sara has been part of the City of Wichita family since 2008, when she started working part-time for the Parks & Recreation department as a junior at Friends University, where she also played tennis. She went on to earn her master’s degree from Wichita State University, after which she was offered a full-time position with Parks & Rec.
From there, Sara worked at many of the recreation centers in Wichita, including at Colvin, where she ran youth summer tennis camps, Linwood, and Edgemoor. For the past six years, however, Sara has been an integral part of the Riverside Tennis Center team, assisting with its programming as well as revitalizing the facility and its courts. “Riverside is part of the Parks & Rec department–we work a lot of special events [at Riverside] and also wear a lot of hats to support the department as a whole,” Sara said. “That’s why I love it–it’s always very interesting and fun!”
One of her greatest and most memorable accomplishments while at Riverside was working to help secure grant funding to repair the facility’s outdoor tennis courts, as well as the clubhouse. “The outdoor courts were in desperate need of repair,” said Sara. “They had been patching [the issues] for five years or so. So, we started the process of requesting funding to have three of the courts repaired through a Capital Improvement Project grant, which we requested through the city council. They are granted based on greatest need. It was going to be a four-year process, but we pushed a little harder to get it done quickly. We were able to secure $1.2 million in funding to get the courts torn out and replaced.
“It was a huge update and accomplishment,” Sara said.
Additional grant funding came from the Wichita chapter of the Maureen Connelly Brinker Foundation, which Sara works closely with to support youth tennis programs in the community. “Something I’ll remember [about my time at Riverside] is our great partnership with them,” said Sara. “They’re huge supporters and donors of our youth programs. They have a special grant account for Riverside improvements that they’ve been collecting for 30 years, so we spoke with them to see if they would donate toward the progress. With their help, we were able to add three new courts, some pickleball courts, and refreshed the clubhouse.”
“The Foundation has been hosting their fundraising tournament at Riverside for years. They’re a great organization!”
Over the years, Sara was able to make a tremendous impact on the tennis community in Wichita. As such, she’s been the recipient of many awards tied to her dedication to youth programming and her help with the upgrades to Riverside. USTA Kansas named her the “Outstanding Contributor to Youth Tennis” and USTA Missouri Valley honored her as an “Outstanding Contributor to Youth Programming.” Her leadership also helped Riverside earn “Organization Member of the Year” twice and hosts of the “Outstanding Junior Tournaments” awards from USTA Kansas.
“USTA Kansas has been very supportive and very helpful to us with everything we’ve done here,” Sara said, gratefully.
USTA Missouri Valley also nominated Sara to be included in Tennis Industry Magazine as an “Outstanding Contributor” in their “Champions of Tennis” edition highlighting youth tennis programs. Kansas Parks & Rec also awarded Sara with the “Outstanding Sports Professional” award in 2020 for her work at Riverside and its facility upgrades.
It’s no surprise that, after years of hard work making Riverside the outstanding facility it is, Sara is going to miss being there. “I am very sad to leave Riverside,” Sara said. “It was a very tough decision–I love my job and my position here, which was the hardest part of making the decision to leave. I’m very, very sad to leave, but I’m at a place now where I feel like I've accomplished what I wanted to accomplish and I’m excited to see what comes next!”
USTA Kansas thanks Sara for her years of dedicated service and we wish her the best of luck in her new and exciting next chapter of life!