Highlights: 14 courts, seating for 600, state-of-the-art technology, webcasting capabilities on main competition courts
Rice tennis entered an exciting new era during the 2015 dual season as the Owls moved into the new George R. Brown Tennis Center.
The sprawling 126,000-square-foot complex, located adjacent to the Brian Patterson Sports Performance Center at Rice Stadium, serves 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. Live webcasts of matches on all courts is also available.
Competition-quality lighting allows the Owls to schedule matches at times more conducive to attracting larger spectator crowds, and the configuration of the courts and seating enables fans greater flexibility to follow multiple matches at once. The configuration has been showcased each year as the men's and women's teams have scheduled concurrent dual matches which have proved to be highly popular. The new facility was designed to bring conference and national tennis events to Rice, and in its first two years, the facility hosted the 2015 ITA Men's Texas Regional Championship in fall as well as Conference USA Championships for women (2015) and men (2016) with the Owls capturing the crown each time.
The new $9 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.