Gaston & Catawba

Marathon tennis for 2 causes

Die-hard tennis lovers will play doubles around the clock for 50 hours next weekend at the Hickory Foundation YMCA in a bid to break a world record.

The five teams also will help raise $25,000 for the tennis program at the Y. The world record attempt starts at noon Friday and ends at 2 p.m. next Sunday.

Players will take 10-minute breaks every hour, but that doesn't leave time for sleep. Vince Johnson of Hickory is one of the 20 players who signed up for the 50-hour tennis marathon. “I will sleep Friday and know I will be running on adrenaline,” Johnson said.

He'll be playing with Bill Geideman, Allen Finley and Brad Ansley.

Meanwhile, other players have signed up to join 50 teams that are already playing in four-hour shifts at courts around the area and at the Y. They also are raising money for the Y's tennis program.

“There are cracks in the courts and some of the lights don't work. We will use the money to help refurbish the courts,” said Johnson, who is a member of the local Y's board of directors.

The 20 players who are playing 50 hours are trying to raise $1,000 each. The teams playing four-hour shifts are seeking donations of a quarter or more for each game they play.

Next weekend's fundraiser, called “Quarters for Kathy Kim and Her Kids,” will supplement the money that the Y plans to spend on the courts through its current capital campaign.

Kim, who has taught tennis for more than 32 years and is an institution at the Hickory Y, says the courts are in bad shape. Water stands in low spots, and the courts are cracked and growing mold in the shade. But they get lots of use, including 250 student players in the last two months.

The Y is considering whether to resurface the courts or rebuild them. If there's enough money, a sewer line beneath the area may be relocated. The line has caused settling and creates low spots on the courts, Kim said.

Because the Y's five lighted courts are needed for the 50-hour event, the four-hour teams are playing anywhere and anytime they can find a court. Then they will report their hours and turn in their money to the event organizers.

Johnson says the Y is still looking for financial donations from individuals and corporate sponsors. And they need witnesses to watch the matches and certify the teams played the prescribed time.

He came up with the idea as a way to honor Kim. “She means so much to us. I don't know if I would attempt 50 hours of tennis for anyone else,” he said.