Jeff Britt has a challenge for area high school tennis players: “If you think you’re the best high school player in Charlotte, you need to come out here and play in this Shrine tournament.”Charlotte’s Oasis Shriners will host the first Oasis Shriners Tennis Classic June 29 at the Russell Tennis Center in south Charlotte. The tournament is open to high school-age boys’ and girls’ players from the Carolinas. The cost to players is $50 and admission is free. There will be food and a silent auction at the event, with all proceeds benefitting the Shriners Hospital for Children in Greenville, S.C. Britt started working on the tournament more than a year ago. The Oasis Shriners have hosted an all-star football game, Shrine Bowl of the Carolinas, since 1937. Britt hopes to start the same type of event for tennis. “It was just something I thought of and wanted to do something to help these kids,” said Britt, the tournament chairman. Britt approached Gail Alexander, owner of Russell Tennis Center, about hosting the event earlier this year. He said she agreed to do it during their first meeting. “It sounded like a great cause,” said Alexander, who also said the club has hosted Special Olympics events. “I’m very happy that we can do that. It’s an opportunity for our club to do community service and help kids.” Britt said the club, with five hard courts and seven clay courts, is perfect for the tournament. “We’re privileged to be here, we really are,” he said. “It’s a beautiful facility, we’ve got a great owner. ... Hopefully we’ll be here for 20 years or more.” The tennis tournament, like many other Shriners events, benefits the Shriners Hospitals for Children. There are 22 hospitals around North America offering specialized medical care for children at no cost to the patient or parent. Britt hopes to raise about $8,000.The tournament’s slogan is “Kids Playing for Kids.” “We hope that when they come and they play this tournament, they get the enjoyment of the competition and they get the enjoyment of competing for something more than just winning,” said tournament co-chairman Mike Davis. “By them competing and paying the entry fee, they’re not just competing to win for themselves, they’re actually helping other people win in the process.” The Classic will be a single-elimination tournament, with eight-game pro sets in the opening rounds and best of three sets in the semifinals and finals. Former world top-20 tennis player John Sadri, who is the head tennis director at Russell Tennis Center, is the tournament director. Britt hopes to have 64 players in the tournament – 32 boys and 32 girls – but said the organizers will work with whatever number they have.“We’re like the Wright Brothers this time,” Britt said. “We’re going to fly this airplane off that rail for as many seconds as we can do it.” Davis and Britt hope the event will expand, eventually becoming a multi-day event with doubles. They said it could even spread to other areas. “If this goes well, if Charlotte supports this well, International Shrine is watching this as a model that they may be able to make this a classic ... in many, many major cities,” Davis said.
Thursday, Jun. 13, 2013
Shriners to host first tennis tournament
Learn more The Oasis Shriners Tennis Classic is open to public, private and home-school boys’ and girls’ tennis players (rising freshman to just-graduated seniors) from North and South Carolina. The entry fee is $50, with proceeds benefitting Shriners Hospitals for Children. To register, call Lori Prockup at the Oasis Shrine: 704-549-9600. Want to go? The Oasis Shriners Tennis Classic starts at 8 a.m. June 29 at the Russell Tennis Center, 1024 Sardis Lane. Admission is free. The rain makeup date is July 13.
Inscoe: 704-358-5923; Twitter: @CoreyInscoe
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