WeissCrax: Special tennis love

Special Olympian Jessica Simon (front), UCSB's Katerina Mozolyuk (far left), Special Olympian Amy Peterson, UCSB's April Scatliffe, UCSB asistant tennis coach Charlotte Scatliffe (far right); Presidio Sports' Randy Weiss crashes in on the action in back.

WOW – when it comes to sport rallies, it was one of the best!!

Missed it?

No worries.

Let’s go to the highlights …

The backdrop is the fabulous Tennis Club of Santa Barbara (TCSB) – nestled there on the mountain side of The American Riviera and the crown jewel of the local racquet world – that served as the Saturday Showcase for the annual Special Olympics Tennis Tournament.

Under crystal-clear blue skies, it’s a perfect day.

For sport.

For Santa Barbara.

Over 30 SB Special Olympians, including some who made the trip from Northern SB County, along with another 30-plus local tennis stars who paid to play, all have obviously brought their ‘A’ games on this summer-sunny day.

The Special Olympians are teamed with tennis studs from Westmont, UCSB and SBCC men’s and women’s tennis teams, who have graciously lent their athletic talents for this unified tennis tourney.

SB Tennis Patrons Executive Director CathyAnn Simon with daughter Jessica

They’re grouped together as partners into color-themed divisions: yellow, red, green, orange and blue.

Dos Pueblos, San Marcos and Santa Barbara High School tennis players happily serve as volunteers and ball boys/girls to keep the action moving on the regulation courts.

“It’s an unbelievable day and this facility is sooo beautiful,” sez Ashley Haug, Regional Sports Manager for Special Olympics-Santa Barbara.

It’s a collaborative effort with ‘a whole lotta love’ from the Santa Barbara Tennis Patrons.

“This tournament is now an official part of our schedule and we hope to raise over $3,000 for Special Olympics,” offers CathyAnn Simon, SBTP Executive Director.

It’s personal for her as daughter, Jessica, is a very decorated Special Olympian and son, Spencer – a tennis prodigy who tours the world and soon off to San Diego State in January– he’ll participate in the afternoon closer exhibition with UCSB’s Jordan Dockendorff, Mathieu Forget and Sophia Novak.

A family affair, as well, for players and civic leaders Dave and Liz de L’Arbre, whose daughter, Jolie is playing over on Court One featuring Quick Start Nets – smaller courts and racquets and with lower compression balls that the US Tennis Association has adopted to get younger players involved in tennis.

TEAMING UP: Bottelsen, de L'Arbre, Cotich & Winterthalter

The action here is swift and the Special Olympians are eating it up – they’re just having a blast!

Many smiles, hi-fives and good cheer.

Everywhere, actually …

Interspersed on the many sun-drenched courts are local tennis rock stars such as Amber Bottelsen of TCSB fame, Megan Cotich, LaColina JHS life science teacher extraordinaire and Elizabeth Winterhalter, SBTP President.

The guy-equivalent teams play on the far end courts near the pool zone.

“This is a great community cause and a very special day for everyone. It just feels like ‘family,” sez Winterhalter.

Asked what it means for collegiate players to participate, Charlotte Scatliffe – third-year UCSB’s assistant women’s tennis coach after an uber-successful four-year run as the university’s #1 double player (2004-2008) for All-World Head Coach Pete Kirkwood – offered …

“Especially for our freshman, it’s important for them to see first-hand how much we want to be a part of this wonderful community.”

And what a community it is!

“It’s just been a spectacular day,” offered Harv Bottelsen, TCSB owner who generously gifted the use of his beautiful facility for the afternoon.

A team effort, f’sure, including many sponsors whose logos are emblazoned on the back of the cool tournament shirts.

One worn by Special Olympian Steve Glick who, perhaps, summed up the day best:

“We’re just playing and having fun.”

We can all thank all these Special Olympians for teaching us about ‘perspective’ and reminding us about the true beauty of sport.

And about life …

Spirited play on the courts!