Sizzling Competition at the MAC Wheelchair Open

By Shima Grover

Sizzling Competition at the MAC Wheelchair Open

May was the eighth wettest month in Richmond, but MAC Wheelchair Tennis Open started on a sunny and hot Saturday in June. Seventeen competitors from TN, NY, NJ, OH, NC, WV, MD and PA competed in four divisions. Six players were first time participants in the tournament.

The weekend kicked off with Sportable Run/Roll Round Robin on Friday evening. About seventy-five people attended. Sportable is a Richmond 501(C)(3) offering thirteen adaptive sports programs. Sportable, RTA and City of Richmond, Department of Parks, Recreation and Community Facilities formed a partnership in 2009 and started offering introductory wheelchair tennis program. Sportable continues to make introductory wheelchair tennis program at Westover Hills Tennis Complex. Two Sportable athletes who just participated in the Westover Hills program played in the tournament. Both of them had a great tournament and decided to continue playing wheelchair tennis. Many “run” tennis players played with “roll” partners for the first time.

For the first time in many years, women’s A and women’s C divisions were included in the tournament. Joanna Nieh, a fifteen year old from NYC, was the champion and Michelle Wilson, a seventeen year old from TN, was the finalist. Joanna was a member of the World Cup Champion US Junior Team. The US Team three-peated the fete in Sardinia, Italy three weeks ago. Nate Melnyk who played in MAC Wheelchair Open in 2014 and 2015 was Joanna’s teammate. Both Joanna and Michelle will be attending USTA International Junior Wheelchair Tennis Camp in July. Over thirty kids from seven countries attended the 2016 USTA Junior Camp.

Ten players competed in Men’s A/B Division. Paddy Donaghey of Charleston, WV defeated Thomas Kyler of Cleveland, OH in the final. Donaghey and Kyler teamed up to win Men’s A/B Division Doubles. Mark Jenkinson of Martinsburg, WV and Larry Souler of Center Valley PA were Men’s A/B Division doubles finalist. Other division winners and finalists were David Beauregard of Wilmington, NC and Preston Curry of Richmond in Men’s’ C Division, Michelle Wilson of Sevierville, TN and Twila Adams of Charlotte, NC in Women’s C Division. In Men’s C Division doubles final David Beauregard and Enrique Carrasco of Alexandria, VA won a super tiebreak over Preston Curry and Zach Zomermaand both of Richmond.

The tournament committee, with help from sponsors and donors, works hard to make the tournament less of a financial burden to players by offering rebates if players participate in Sportable Run/Roll Round Robin, providing prizes for the player dinner, supplying free meals and providing prize money. We would like to thank Einstein Bros Bagels Stony Point, Chick-fil-A Chesterfield Plaza and Saladworks for donating breakfasts and lunches. Players loved the food. Prize donors included Burger Batch Midlothian, Costco, Crosscreek Nursery and Landscaping, Dick’s Sporting Goods, Double Tree by Hilton Midlothian, Extra Billy Midlothian, The Fresh Market Midlothian, Gearharts Chocolates, La Cucina, Papeterie, Sassy Bee Tennis and Gift Shop and Sneed’s Nursery. US Open, Citi Open and Washington Kastles donated tickets. We would like to thank sponsors-Dr. Ashley Epperly of Grove Avenue Family Dentistry, an anonymous sponsor and RTA. Players were welcomed warmly and enjoyed the services of many local volunteers. Dozens of volunteers included students who retrieved balls on court and provided assistance to player.