By Jim Curran
The 22nd meeting of the Love of the Y tennis tournament went off as scheduled despite the threat of bad weather. It didn’t stop the planners and participants in this year’s Love of the Y, however. This 3 day event, Marco Island’s oldest tennis tournament, kicked off with a Friday evening reception. All who entered the tournament were invited to attend. Paul Barrus, the new tennis director and the committee provided food, beverages and an entertaining social evening. The highlight was a professional singles match exhibition, under the lights, between Chris Barrus, Paul’s son, a junior at Gulf Coast High School versus Ben Bervin, from the University of Wisconsin. Chris is a number one ranked junior in the state of New Jersey and has been ranked as high as 26 nationally. Ben attends the University of Wisconsin and was the High School Wisconsin State Champ.
The best of three match was played under the lights in a steady mist and Chris won 6-0, 6-1. Those who watched were amazed at the talent these two young men displayed. Julie Wilson, a Marco Y member and spectator stated “it is a real treat to see players of this caliber being brought to the Marco Y for us to see. It is inspirational.” The fun evening concluded with a series of drawings for prizes from local businesses and then all went home pleased with the evening events.
Saturday morning the matches were to begin at 8:00 AM. However, the weather was a problem. Some of the courts were unplayable because showers that occurred late Friday evening left puddles of water on them. This caused Paul and his staff to go through a major reshuffling program. While the delay was on the tennis center volunteer team provided food, beverages, coffee and fruit to pass the time.
The team included John Ritchie, Milly Martin, Erin Olmes, Ed Neal, Betty Neville, Nancy Sroka and Jim Curran. At about 11:00 AM the weather cleared enough that all courts became playable. Eight levels of matches had to be scheduled because of the tremendous number of entries. Entries in this tournament were the highest in the past five years. Also, it was double the number of players compared to last year. As the day passed, weather made another call. Late afternoon temperatures started dropping and the wind increased. Not good for tennis. However, none of the players dropped out. Due to the conditions some matches did last until late in the afternoon. Even so, all scheduled matches were played…… another victory over the weather!
Sunday came and it was another challenge. It was cloudy and cold. The temperature had dropped dramatically into the high forties. No problem for the tournament planners and players. Matches went on as scheduled and everyone showed up. Coffee consumption increased dramatically!
As the day passed the wind increased but there were no complaints. All contests scheduled were played even though the final winner was not determined until 5:30 PM Sunday. Tennis wins again! When asked about his feelings about this year’s tournament, Paul stated, “this was a memorable event for many of those who played and those who watched. I want to thank the sponsors, especially Winn Dixie, the volunteers and the participants for making it a great success.”
To many, this 22nd “Love of the Y” tennis tournament was the best of all.