The round-robin tournament features both men and women from seven different universities including Marquette University, UW-Wisconsin Madison, Ball State, DePaul, Detroit Mercy, Western Michigan and Xavier and will continue through Sunday. That tradition of gender equality goes back to the tournaments very beginning founder and Fox Point resident, Chas Mulcahy said.
"We’re very proud and very unique in our history that men and women were treated equally for the last 37 years," Mulcahy said. "It’s easy to say that today, but when you go back to 1975 — it’s something to be very proud of."
Of the 65 players who arrived Thursday, many came from outside the United States including Argentina, Austria, Belarus, Belgium, Canada, the Czech Republic, France, Germany, the Republic of Georgia, Israel, Mexico, the Netherlands, Russia, Serbia, South Africa, Spain, Sweden and Uzbekistan.
These players are not shuttled off to a hotel for the next few days, but instead are "adopted" by host families, Mulcahy said. These families will take care of their players and then cheer them on during the matches.
Mary Fran Cahill is the vice president and media relations director for the MTC. She said that local families "adopting" the players makes this tournament even more special.
"The coaches remark that the players get spoiled by tournaments like ours," Cahill said in a press release. "The whole atmosphere is so festive with special dinners for the players, their 'adopted' families and their coaches at the club each evening. And the food at the Town Club is excellent. No fast food, that's for sure."
Cahill estimates the club has seen more than 1,500 visitors during the three-day tournament and with the sunny forecast for the weekend, she hopes there will be even more people this year.
While most outdoor tennis courts today are made of concrete, the Town Club's courts are made of clay, which Mulcahy said can bring a more demanding game to players.
"That’s a different surface," he said. "It’s a little bit slower, the points are played more deliberately, they’re longer and the conditioning is more demanding."
Tournament returns to "its roots"
The nearly four-decade old tournament has not always been hosted at the Town Club. When the tournament began in 1975, it was played at Marquette University's Helfaer Tennis Stadium and the Milwaukee Auditorium. But when the auditorium was remodeled in 2001 to the Milwaukee Theatre, the MTC had to find a new home.
The tournament found its way to what many call "it's roots" in 2010 when it came to the Town Club where the tournament's founding fathers were all members.
If there is rain, the singles matches will be moved to Marquette's Helfaer Tennis Center & Recreation Center, 525 N.16th St., Milwaukee, and doubles matches will move to LeClub, 2001 W. Good Hope Rd., Glendale.
And after spending 37 years continuing the tennis tradition in Milwaukee and now bringing the MTC 'home' to Fox Point, Mulcahy said he just has a passion for the game that's more like a culture.
“It’s an important part of our lives and we look forward to the fall like some people do for the football season," he said. "I just couldn’t imagine not being involved in the tournament."