Local Special Olympians put on a “clinic”

Special Olympics Tennis Classic

The Tennis Club of Santa Barbara hosted the fifth annual Special Olympics Tennis Classic. (Michael Weinstein Photo) 

You can have Wimbledon.

The U.S. Open…

And all the Grand Slam stuff.

Raffa. Roger. Serena. Sharapova.

They’re all yours.

Give me these guys any day….

Randy Weiss

Randy Weiss

WEISSCRAX: With a fun, creative
flair, Randy Weiss showcases
the lighter side of sports,
or sportz as he calls it.
Randy’s work from Presidio
Sports has surfaced in Parade
Magazine and Runner’s World.
Randy can usually be found on
the pool decks at local water polo
matches, in the ocean for Reef &
Run and Nite Moves summer series,
and at a zillion community and
sporting events around town.

On what appeared to be just another tennis tournament – it was anything but!!

A truly spectacular day here, where the Riviera blends into Mission Canyon — the Santa Barbara Tennis Club (SBTC)!

The members happily make way for the real stars — 30 spirited Special Olympians who have come ready to play, along with an entourage of adoring fans.

It’s the annual Special Olympics Tennis Classic.

“It’s our fifth one and everyone is having fun,” shares CathyAnn Simon, executive director of the Santa Barbara Tennis Patrons, the event’s organizer in partnership with SB Special Olympics of Southern California.

“It’s a great event and a real joy for us to host every year,” adds Charlotte Valentine, SBTC director of operations. “The opening ceremony is amazing to see the athletes smiling and so happy to be participating – we just love it!“

And it’s one of the hottest days of the year, yet no one is complaining.

Spectators sit shaded courtside — Harvey Bottelsen, the Club’s generous & gracious owner, among them.

Ethel Byers – The Grand Dame of Santa Barbara Tennis is here, too and running around, helping here or there, as she usually does.

Athletes show off their medals won on Saturday.

Athletes show off their medals won on Saturday. (Michael Weinstein Photo)

There’s also a cadre of talented volunteers – pros Jerry Hatchett (Knollwood), Adam Webster (SBTC), Jake Nelson (Cathedral Oaks), along with local high school players; UCSB and Westmont’s men’s and women’s teams and community groups, like Santa Barbara Aces, Tennis For All and Dudes on Duty – young stars always ready to lend a helping hand.

When all paired together, John Kinsella, tennis pro (La Cumbre CC), runs everyone through a series of fun agility drills right there on the cool “short courts”…

“It means a lot for our athletes to work closely with these younger players,” says Michelle Dukes, special events and volunteer manager for SB Special Olympics. “It really promotes inclusion in our schools and in our community.”

There’s no one side talking or texting here — nothing short of total focus.

The clinic is a prelude to the real tourney that happens in the afternoon.

But, it’s here that you realize that you are actually the one being “schooled.”

On sport.

And on life, itself.

Local high school players go through drills with Special Olympics athletes. (Randy Weiss Photo)

Local high school players go through drills with Special Olympics athletes. (Randy Weiss Photo)

The Special Olympians are showcasing what it’s all about – having fun, trying your best and of course, bringing everyone together.

“There’s a great sense of ‘community’ here, with everyone helping out,” says Gina Carbajal, new executive director for SB Special Olympics.

And for the many who made it all possible and all the volunteers, they are living one of life’s greatest ironies…

When you give, you get more back.

The Special Olympians have “aced” this one again.

So, you can have the Davis Cup, too …

There’s no better action than right here at home …