One of the finest facilities in the southwest, the Jake Hess Tennis Stadium gives the Owls a definite home-court advantage. Located adjacent to Tudor Fieldhouse and Reckling Park, the stadium was constructed in 1970.
The stadium is named after Jake Hess, the major donor of the facility. Mr. Hess, along with his younger brother Wilbur Hess, was one of Rice's greatest tennis players. He was the Owls' first all-America player (1932). Wilbur was Rice's first NCAA champion in tennis, winning the singles crown in 1935.
In addition to serving as home court for all Rice dual matches and tournaments, the stadium also was the site of the tennis competition at the 1986 U.S. Olympic Festival, the 1990 and 1994 SWC Men's and Women's Tennis Championships and the 1994 NCAA Men's and 1997 NCAA Women's regional championships. Rice also hosted the 2004 Western Athletic Conference Championships and 2006 Conference USA Championships at the stadium and will host the 2009 C-USA Women's Championship.
In 2004, the athletics department named center court of the Jake Hess Tennis Stadium for former letterman and 1950 All-America Jack A. Turpin. At Rice, Turpin teamed with Chick Harris to win the 1950 Southwest Conference doubles championships before the pair went on to earn All-America distinction. Turpin continues to be a force in the sport of tennis at Rice and throughout the state of Texas. His dedication to the sport has led to the United States Tennis Association - Texas Section honoring him with the W.T. Caswell Service Award in 1964. In 1989, Turpin was inducted into the Texas Tennis Hall of Fame.
In the first event on the newly named Jack Turpin Stadium Court, the Owls hosted the Western Athletic Conference men's and women's championships. The Rice men were triumphant, winning their first conference title since 1972.
Since then, Rice has named three more courts for former Owls: Ron Fisher (Court 2), Fredrik G. Gradin (Court 3) and Alberto Carrero (Court 4). The 1,400-seat stadium features lighted courts, covered seating for spectators and a large scoreboard behind the center court. Since its opening in 1970, the stadium has seen a number of renovations, including the addition of lights to allow for night play as well as a locker rooms for both the men's and women's teams in 2005.
In 2002, Jake Hess Tennis Stadium experienced a face-lift as the original six courts were completely redone, additional covered bleachers and benches were added. In 2006, the courts were resurfaced in blue and new windscreens were installed, creating a new look for the home team.
In 2009, the area outside the stadium underwent a dramatic beautification process with the construction of the Audrey Moody Ley Plaza, linking the Tudor Fieldhouse Complex, Reckling Park and Hess Stadium in a spectacular way.
Naming one of the two remaining courts at the Jake Hess Tennis Stadium is an unique and lasting way to demonstrate your support to the Rice University tennis programs.
Each court donor will be honored with a permanent plaque on the court bearing his or her name. Tax deductible donations may be made as a lump sum bequest or installments over a 5-year period.
Under the leadership of head coach Ron Smarr, the last 13 years have shown dramatic improvement and Rice has once again risen to the top of the Division I tennis ranks. But it is time to take this program to the next level, to bring home that NCAA team trophy that has eluded us on three occasions in the past.
Rice has always offered the best of both worlds to a student-athlete, an education that's second to none and a tennis program that has a winning tradition. Times are changing; the face of a program has become critical in recruiting talented student-athletes.
We appreciate your support and look forward to another exciting season of Rice tennis