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‘Serve an Ace’ event raises $19,000 for high school tennis

A rain delay between the afternoon clinics and the evening pro exhibition could not dampen theenthusiasm of more than 150 tennis supporters who attended the “Serve an Ace for Our Students” tennis exhibition on Saturday, Aug. 13, 2011, at the San Jose Country Club to end a week of events that raised $19,000 to offset district budget cuts for Jacksonville high school tennis.

The full-day fundraiser included morning and afternoon clinics with local teaching pros, and an evening doubles exhibition featuring current ATP pro and Jacksonville high school tennis product Amer Delic and former Wimbledon finalist MaliVai Washington against former Top 5 players Todd Martin and Brian Gottfried.

High School students and adults paid to participate in the clinics filling 12 courts to capacity in the morning and six courts in the afternoon. Twenty-two pros donated their time for the clinic event. All money raised goes to the Save Jax High School Tennis campaign.

“A substantial amount of money was raised and the day was a huge success,” said Leo Vorwerk, director of tennis at San Jose Country Club. “This event could not have happened without the pros’ participation.”

High School students, parents, and coaches assisted in the sale of tickets to the clinics and tennis exhibition and also raised money with Pizza sales on Tuesday and Wednesday, selling 200 pizzas donated by Papa Murphy pizza. Stephen Ireland from Stanton High School was recognized at the pro exhibition as the student who raised the most money, and was awarded a Wilson racquet.

Additionally, $1,000 donations came from the San Jose Ladies Tennis Association, Timuquana Club, Florida Yacht Club, and USTA Florida.

“In addition to the money raised, high school tennis benefits in so many ways as awareness is raised on the importance of the sport and the support in our community,” said event organizer Celia Rehm. “We received in-kind contributions exceeding $10,000 from individuals, Moe’s Southwest Grill, Firehouse Subs, Papa Murphy’s and Sweet! Cupcakes, Head/Penn Racquet Sports, Wilson Racquet Sports, Mint Magazine, Publix and Winn Dixie.”

The “Save Jax High School Tennis” group, in consultation with Jon Fox, the Duval County Public Schools athletics director, has a goal to raise $44,000 to cover the costs of tennis for the 2011-12 school term. Due to educational spending cuts by the State of Florida, the Duval County School Board made a decision early in the year to eliminate the boys’ and girls’ tennis teams as part of cuts in varsity sports. As a result, none of Duval County’s 17 high schools are currently scheduled to offer students the opportunity to play tennis during the coming spring season.

Rehm says the “Save High School Tennis” group, made up of representatives from the Jax Youth Tennis Association, the Northeast Florida Professional Tennis Association, the First Coast Tennis Foundation and other organizations, greatly appreciates the support from the Greater Jacksonville area and the tennis community to help raise the necessary funds to keep tennis in Duval County Public Schools.

For more information, contact Celia Rehm at cylrhem@bellsouth.net.


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