It isn’t every day that avid South Whidbey tennis fans get to spend quality time on the court with a state champion.
From 10 a.m. to noon on Saturday, this year’s 2A high school singles tennis champion Lindsey Newman and Jason Craig, an all-conference first-teamer, get together for a “Beat the Champs” event at the South Whidbey High School courts.
Joining them will be U.S. Professional Tennis Association player Traci Mitchum for a free community tennis “block party.”
The block party is sponsored by the South Whidbey Parks & Recreation District. There will be instruction, games, prizes, contests and a special kid’s court for children from 2 to 9. Loaner racquets will be on hand.
“Last year, we invited mainly older people who wanted to get back into the swing of the game,” said organizer Teresa Wheeler. “It was so successful, we decided to target all age groups and we are expecting quite a crowd.
“Having our very own tennis champion right here on the island adds a special dimension,” she added.
The “Beat the Champs” concept is a way to recognize the efforts of the best local high school girls and boys players.
On May 25 and 26 at the Yakima Tennis Club, Newman fought hard for four successful tennis matches. The sophomore standout was declared 2A singles state champion after beating her arch-rival from Lynden High School. In District 1 playoffs last Oct. 5, Craig had a very good day, winning three of four tough matches to place third and just miss a trip to the state finals.
Players can opt to challenge either Newman or Craig in singles or doubles play.
Organizer Karyle Kramer said all seven courts will be busy on Saturday.
One court will have ground stroke and service to targets; prizes will be awarded as players improve. Another will feature a ball machine so players can test themselves.
“Folks can move from one to the other or spend their time playing in a single venue,” Kramer said.
The kid’s court will have special activities just for the little guys, and two courts will be reserved for games and drills designed to keep everyone moving.
“The day’s purpose is to offer a free community event at the beginning of the summer season and offer sign ups for our summer tennis classes,” Kramer said. “People should know that they can meet the instructors and Carrie (Monforte) from Parks & Rec will be taking registrations for all of our classes — all levels, all ages.
“We’ll have short ‘class times’ of 15 minutes with five minute ‘passing periods,’ so participants will have the opportunity to get to every court if they’d like,” she said.
Registration begins at 9:30 a.m. and court action begins at 10 a.m.
For details, call the South Whidbey Parks & Recreation District at 221-5484.
Jeff VanDerford can be reached at 221-5300 or firstname.lastname@example.org.