CATS Turns 50, Isn’t that Nifty!

Recollections of John Wagner, CATS Historian

Wow, hard to believe, but what a wild ride it has been. I won’t try to trace the whole back 50, just a few of the major highlights that helped sustain our amazing history.

Like any club and its formation, we have had our proverbial ups and downs. During my reign in the ‘70s, we were recruiting aggressively within ad agencies like my alma mater, Leo Burnett. We brought in a lot of very good tennis players, mostly male, but we became top heavy with far too many A players and very few C players. Many of these males played singles at their clubs like Midtown, McClurg, and Lake Shore, and many of them did not stick when we became a co-ed mixed doubles club. Some became bored, so we restructured and recruited on a more diverse approach, building our club to about 200 members at all levels and genders.  

We actually had to turn down recruits, since our size was limited to our club selection, court avails, court times, and, of course, costs. We made sure our fees were reasonable and they’ve stayed that way over the years. In short, CATS has been and still is a tremendous bargain!  

Of course, the key to our success are the people involved who made it work, past and present. And what a truly amazing group they are, led by your board members, who are constantly working to keep you competitive and fun-filled at the same time. At times, no easy task.  

Our club’s off court activities, like this one you’re attending, have been every bit as exciting as our very competitive team match-ups. We’ve done a little bit of everything thanks to our hard-working, very inventive Social Committee: Sox games, Bulls games, Wolves games, Blackhawk games, and, of course, Cubs games. We’ve gone bowling, golfing, dancing, scouring various plays, comedic stand ups, even saw an Elvis impersonator, all in the interest of variety and fun giving us a break from batting that little yellow ball past that opponent on the other side of the net.

Speaking of match ups, we’ve had a few that resulted in tying the proverbial knot! Emeline Bushma became Mrs. Dwight Hunting after he chased her on and off the court for years, and the wonderful Olga Connors became Mrs. Phil Conners. Others have met and formed significant other relationships. What a club! Not only do we play doubles but we form couples. What a society!  

Our current President, Bill Himmelmann, sent out an email for our board meeting last Monday, reminding those who were attending and closing with the comment, “together we can make it work.” Well, that level of extraordinary “togetherness” has made it work for the past 50 years. You can be proud, CATS…mighty, mighty PROUD!


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