BY JIM LABINSKI - Months of preparation, a dedicated staff, supportive donors, enthusiastic volunteers and a lively crowd all came together to make Wednesday night’s Tennis Ball and Silent Auction to benefit the Suncoast Humane Society at the Boca Grande Club a tremendous success.
At least $20,000 dollars was raised in the intense competition for the 20 items in the silent auction.
A new wrinkle for this year’s gala was the “Tombola,” Italian for lottery. The brainchild of Cathy Parkes, a Boca Grande Club member and event volunteer, twenty bucks got the purchaser a tennis ball with a number on it, and a corresponding goodie bag valued at up to $200. The 101 tennis balls sold out quickly.
Yvonne Anderson, CEO of the Boca Grande Club, was ecstatic over the results of the fundraiser. According to her, initial addition shows well over $20,000 was raised for SHS. She noted that the event went very well because of the hard work of the Clubhouse Restaurant staff that graciously volunteered their time.
“The folks at Suncoast are great to work with,” she added.
Over 160 revelers paid the $100 for their ticket, and over 60% of that went directly to Suncoast, with the rest going to cover food and drink costs.
The Tennis Ball is the kickoff event for the fourteenth annual Professional Tennis Exhibition Series, which begins next Wednesday, Feb. 1 at 4 p.m. with the first round match. Nate Griffin, the director of tennis at the River Strand Club in Bradenton, was one of the competitors who came out to the Tennis Ball. He was especially fond of the Newcastle drafts and the coq au vin from the French food station.
Griffin is slated to play on opening day of the tournament, his tenth time participating in the event. Joining Griffin next week will be Kalani Hatori, the hammering Hawaiian from the Pelican Sound Golf and River Club in Estero. Hatori will have played in each of the 14 tournaments.
Also in the lineup will be Joe Venezia, the tennis director from the Landings Racket Club in Sarasota and Shaun Hedrick, a newbie to the event from the Strand Country Club in Naples.
The pros will play three sets of doubles, rotating partners each set. The top two players in terms of games won advance to the semifinals.
The seven-week long tournament culminates with the finals on March 14. Suggested donation for the tennis is five bucks. For more information, call the Boca Grande Club at 941-964-2211.
Hey island tennis players! Don’t be chicken!
There is still time to sign up for the Gasparilla Island Tennis Classic, which is played later this month and in February. Categories include men’s and women’s open singles and doubles; open mixed doubles; and 70-and-over mixed, men’s and women’s doubles.
For more information, stop off at the pro shops of the Boca Bay Pass Club, the Gasparilla Inn or the Boca Grande Club. Another favorite event on the Boca Grande tennis calendar is the annual match between the Boca Bay Pass Club and the Boca Grande Club.
Women’s doubles is played on February 16, men’s doubles on February 17 and mixed doubles on February 18. Sign-ups for the Pass Club team are going quite well according to their tennis director, H Wetzel. Team captain and assistant pro at the Boca Grande Club, Tucker Lang, says that sign ups are lagging so far.
Lang said, “With the Tennis Ball a pleasant memory, it is time for the Boca Grande Club competitors to step up to the plate, represent their club.”
See photos from the Tennis Ball in next week’s Boca Beacon.
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