Family Winners Have Plenty of Fun on Court

By John Packett, RTA Contributing Writer

Family Winners Have Plenty of Fun on Court

Ed Butterworth remembers playing doubles with his dad at Raintree Swim and Racquet Club. “Way back in the early ‘80s, when Mr. [Hugh] Waters was there,” said Butterworth. “We’d go out to Raintree and I’d get into it. Played with my father. Did that for many years. Now I play with my son. Can’t miss it. It’s a lot of fun.”

Butterworth and his 13-year-old son, Hatcher, had just won their fourth straight father-son title in the Mercedes-Benz Greater Richmond Family Mixed Tennis Championships on a dreary afternoon at Byrd Park on May 13.

The Butterworths defeated Chris and Joseph Brown 8-6 in a very competitive match.

“It was close.. There were a lot of tight points,” Butterworth noted. “We play the Browns year after year. Hatcher’s growing up, Joseph’s growing up. We’re getting older and slower, and they’re taking over.”

Hatcher said that his dad had taught him “how to play doubles and where to move and stuff.”

Added the elder Butterworth, “It was probably three-quarters me telling him and one-quarter him, ‘OK, you need to do this, dad!’”

“We had fun with it. It was great to be able to do it. Brought back memories of playing with my dad.”

There were also the memories of long-time family mixed director Hugh Waters, who died on April 24, and missed his first tournament in many years.

“He was always out here with his straw hat on,” said Butterworth, who won the men’s open singles title in 1994 and numerous men’s and mixed doubles crowns over the years. “It was all about tennis with him and encouraging everybody.

“We miss seeing him out here. We used to get pictures taken with him every year.”

While the father-son division drew 13 teams, the mother-son only had two, which meant the final was played quickly.

The match didn’t last long either, with Janet Fleischman and her 11-year-old son, Zach, beating Jill and Eli Campbell 8-2.

It marked the first time Janet and Zach had played together competitively, and Mom said, “It was fun getting to play a mother-son tournament.”

According to Zach, a 5th-grader at Colonial Trail Elementary, playing with Mom was “fun. She carried me most of the time.”

Said Mom, “No, he was doing a good job with the volleys at the net, and his placement.”

Janet Fleishman, a teaching pro at Raintree, is a two-time city singles champion. Her husband, Brian, is the director of tennis at Raintree, so Zach has had some excellent tutoring. Brian and Zach played in the father-son division but lost in the first round.

“This was so nice,” said Janet Fleishman. “It’s so nice that the RTA [Richmond Tennis Association] puts on this event. It’s a great family event.”

The only other division held was the father-daughter, which was a round-robin affair because of three entries.

Paul Caldwell and his 12-year-old daughter, Lily, finished with a 2-0 record and were declared the winners for the second straight year.

  “Lily has improved a lot,” said Paul. “It’s becoming much more even [between dad and daughter]. I’m sure by next year she’ll be even better.”

Asked about playing with her dad, Lily said, quite simply, “It’s really fun.” She’s a sixth-grader at St. Catherine’s School.

Caldwell threw out the possibility of playing the Butterworths in an “all-family final” but it didn’t materialize.

While most of the matches were played under cloudy skies in cool temperatures, the sun managed to appear near the end and warmed things up a bit. Tournament director Bridget Riechert was finally able to shed some of her several T-shirts.

Next on the city agenda is the junior portion of the tournament, scheduled May 26-29 at Byrd Park. The open division, including men’s and women’s singles and doubles, is slated for July 27-31 at Raintree.