(L-R) Bob Bryan, Brooke McCollum, Abigail Spears, Mike Bryan, Raquel Kop-Jones.  

The “Tennis Twins,” Bob and Mike Bryan, were among the players in town for the Western & Southern Open who took time to visit patients at Cincinnati Children’s. (L-R) Bob Bryan, Brooke McCollum, Abigail Spears, Mike Bryan, Raquel Kops-Jones. 

In Cincinnati, professional tennis is more than a spectator sport. It’s an important source of support for Cincinnati Children’s.

Tennis for Charity Inc. (TFC) is the charitable arm of the Western & Southern Open held here in Cincinnati. TFC gives back to the hosting city by donating a portion of the Open’s proceeds to local organizations. Over the last 30 years, TFC has donated more than $7 million to advance the innovative research and clinical care that the Cancer and Blood Diseases Institute at Cincinnati Children’s provides to families here in Cincinnati, across the country and around the world.

TFC board chair Ken Berry has been there from the beginning.

Like many of the hundreds of tournament volunteers, Ken was drawn to the Open because of its partnership with the medical center. “I have been a volunteer with the Western & Southern Open for 30 years, and the affiliation with Cincinnati Children’s is my motivation,” he says. “I owe a personal debt of gratitude for what they did for one of my children. There isn’t a parent in Cincinnati who hasn’t benefited, or knows someone who has benefited, from Cincinnati Children’s expertise.”

With Cincinnati Children’s cancer program ranked the best in the nation by U.S. News & World Report in 2013, Tennis for Charity was eager to continue its support. This year, the organization made a $100,000 gift to our Cancer Survivor Center − a first-of-its-kind program, established here more than 25 years ago.

As medical advances help improve cancer survival rates, the need for long-term care and research to improve outcomes also grows. The effects of disease and treatment on the body can create later health problems, including an increased risk for heart, lung and kidney disease, intellectual challenges, fertility issues or secondary cancers. The Cancer Survivor Center provides lifelong care to pediatric cancer survivors and uses findings from its leading-edge research to improve the treatments of tomorrow.

“The Tennis for Charity board strongly believes in the work that Cincinnati Children’s is doing, and we want to do whatever we can to make sure that success continues,” says Elaine Bruening, CEO of the Western & Southern Open.

In addition to its financial support, the Western & Southern Open also brings smiles to the faces of the children and families who come to us for hope and healing. Each year, players from the Open pay a visit to Cincinnati Children’s.

“The players love coming in to see the kids,” Elaine says. “They know that their visit can offer an hour or two of distraction for kids who are facing incredible challenges. It’s a sobering experience for the players, and a reminder to appreciate all that they have − whether they are ranked 1 or 101.”

Among the players who visited patients this year were the “Tennis Twins” − Bob and Mike Bryan, the top-ranked doubles players and 2012 Olympic gold medalists. Cincinnati and the Western & Southern Open hold a special place in their hearts. “Cincinnati is where we got our feet wet on tour,” Bob says. “We’re very proud of what the tournament’s doing for the kids here at Cincinnati Children’s and all over the world.”

Older brother (by two minutes) Mike agrees. “We love coming here to Cincinnati. The Western & Southern is like the fifth Grand Slam,” he says. “But we’re also proud to be part of how the tournament is supporting this hospital.”