July 30, 2013. Over 220 hardy souls traveled to and through Watauga County this past weekend to compete in the Gladys Hackworth Adult Invitational Clay Court Tennis Tournament at Yonahlossee Raquet Club. This tournament has become so popular that last year it received the honor of “U.S.T.A. of North Carolina Tournament of the Year.”
A record turnout began arriving in the mountains on the July 22 and tennis courts all over the region were full of players polishing their games for high elevation competition. They came from Florida, Georgia, South Carolina, Texas, New Jersey and beyond. College scholars and tennis professionals pumped shoulders with weekend players-all who came to participate not only in play-for-a-cause but the many extraneous activities that are included in the package: breakfasts and dinners, a play party complete with D.J. and dancing, a silent auction and of course, a tee-shirt. The players’ party was Saturday night at the indoor courts. The rain on the metal roof was drowned out by animated conversation, lively music, dancing and more dancing.
A highlight of the evening was a guest appearance by tennis legend Stan Smith who not only won the U.S. Open and Wimbledon in his day; he was also a fierce Davis Cup competitor. He regaled the crowd with stories of American men competing behind the iron curtain-particularly in Romania against the likes of Illie Nastase and Ion Tiriac in the early 1970s. His favorite match of all time was a tense five-setter against these two volatile players, where he and his partner Bob Lutz has to hit all shots well clear of the lines lest the official declare them out.
Back to Boone. Play began on Thursday morning and continued through the quarterfinal rounds into Saturday morning when rain delayed play for two hours and them resumed early afternoon. In the spirit of cooperation, are clubs leant their courts to the players in order to complete delayed play.
But alas, by the end of the day, fifty matches were left to be played and … we all know what happened next. Sunday morning rains drenched all our area tennis courts. For the first time in Yonahlossee history, the Gladys Hackworth Adult Invitational was not completed. Some players, who were worn out by a night of dancing and revelry were relieved. Others, of course were disappointed. As they say, winning isn’t everything. And so it is with the weather. All, however, were delighted with the outcome of the weekend. Over $8000.00 was generated for donation to our local Habitat for Humanity. And “weather” winning trophies were awarded or not, the real winner emerged – our very own Habitat for Humanity. Amen.