McConnell Golf’s tennis program brings all the clubs together.
Each August since 2011, tennis fans have gathered at Wake Forest University for the Winston-Salem Open. The last men’s tournament on the Emirates Airline US Open Series circuit before the US Open, this event draws top pros and a large, enthusiastic crowd.
For the past couple of years, McConnell Golf members have joined in the fun. “It’s a good event,” says Kyle Thortsen, McConnell Golf director of tennis. “We start out with a tailgate in the parking lot. We have a tent, and cornhole, and food, and everyone hangs out until the gates open.”
Member Jill Uttridge agrees. “I attended the WSO with my husband and sons, who are 13 and 9. While the boys enjoyed cornhole in the parking lot, we mixed with friends from our club, Wakefield Plantation, and met members from other McConnell clubs. It was fun to hang with the pros in a non-instructional capacity.” The highlights for the kids? “My 9-year-old loved watching the players practice a few feet away and getting autographs on his big tennis ball. We love the small tournaments because you can really get up close to the players.”
Once inside, the group gathered at center court for a photo. “That was really cool,” smiles Thortsen. “Last year, we had 25 members, and this year we had 50. We hope it will continue to grow and grow.”
The Country Club of Asheville trip took place in the spring, with members from the Raleigh area heading to the mountains. Member Mary Beth Corbin recalls, “We brought a lot of energy and were greeted with sincere enthusiasm. Everyone was so welcoming, and the clinic with the pros was well-designed to meet the levels of the different participants.”
These excursions also involve entertainment and local college players coming out for some sets. An event at Old North State Club in New London, North Carolina happened in November, and it was anticipated from more than just a skill standpoint. Corbin says, “Our group was discussing what our outfits would be — and we asked our coach to have us McConnell-clinic-ready!”