Rice tennis begins an exciting new chapter in its history during the 2015 dual season as the Owls move into the new George R. Brown Tennis Center.
The sprawling 126,000-square-foot complex, located near Rice Stadium and the football practice field, will serve as the home for tennis at Rice at all levels (NCAA, intramural and the Rice Tennis Club). It features 14 courts; seating for 600 divided equally between the six main competition courts; a plaza area, with additional seating as well as a 9,000-square-foot administrative building that houses locker rooms and team lounges for both the Rice men's and women's team; meeting rooms, coaches offices, and locker rooms for the Rice Tennis Club, which also will serve as locker rooms for visiting teams on competition days.
Match scores will be displayed on a Daktronics scoreboard system that includes boards on each court in addition to a central display. Matches on the main competition courts also will be webcast.
For the first time, competition-quality lighting will allow the Owls to schedule matches at times more conducive to attracting larger spectator crowds, and the configuration of the courts and seating will allow fans greater flexibility to follow multiple matches at once. The new facility was designed to bring conference and national tennis events to Rice, and in its first year, the facility will host the C-USA Women's Tennis Championship in April as well as the ITA Women's Texas Regional Championship in fall 2015.
The new $8 million complex is named for the late George R. Brown, former chair of the Rice Board of Governors. Brown was a prominent Houston businessman and philanthropist who served on the Rice board for more than 25 years, from 1943 to 1968.
Ralph and Becky O'Connor and their family provided lead funding for the project. Brown served as both Ralph O'Connor's mentor and business associate and was the grandfather of O'Connor's four children. O'Connor is a trustee emeritus of Rice; he served on the board from 1978 to 1988.
Through the generosity of donors, all fourteen courts at the GRBTC have been named in honor of individuals whose names appear on each court: Court 1: George H.W. Bush - James a. Baker, III; Court 2: Jack A. Turpin; Court 3: Ladhani Family; Court 4: Mecklin Ragan and James A. Ragan; Court 5: Becky Gorham O'Connor; Court 6: lily rain; Court 7: Barbara & David Gibbs; Court 8: Mollie & Will Cannaday: Court 9: Ron Fisher; Court 10: Jonathan Chang '13; Court 11: Susanne M. & Melbern G. Glasscock; Court 12: Tico Carrero; Court 13: George & Susannah Webb; Court 14: Dana Adrienne Burch.
The Brown Tennis Center replaced Jake Hess Tennis Stadium, which served as the home of Rice Tennis from 1971-2014. The site of the Jake Hess complex will soon house the new Moody Center for the Arts.