By Marty Farmer
Riverside-Brookfield High School boys tennis coach Sam Weiss certainly has a sense of good timing regarding the inaugural RBHS Tennis Tournament on July 19-20.
With Wimbledon in its second week, highlighted by the captivating stories of 15-year-old American sensation Cori "Coco" Gauff, plus perennial title contenders like Serena Williams, Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic, July represents the high point of the tennis season.
Five days after the Gentlemen's Singles final is completed at Wimbledon's Centre Court, Weiss and the Bulldogs will host their tennis tourney fundraiser.
The RBHS tourney will take place at the school's five tennis courts (160 Ridgewood Road in Riverside) with the following dates/times: Friday, July 19 at 4 p.m. and Saturday, July 20 at 10 a.m.
Based on the number of participants, the tourney will likely include singles and mixed doubles competitions. Doubles by gender is also a possibility based on the number of players' turnout. Interest in the singles competition is already high and a handful of doubles teams are slated to compete as well.
"The plan isn't to have 1,000 players, especially as a first-year event," Weiss said. "We just want to promote awareness and raise money for RB tennis and host a fun, competitive tennis tournament for the community."
The event will include a double-elimination format, with each match winner determined by best two out of three sets and AD scoring. Each player is guaranteed at last two matches with prizes awarded for first, second and third place,
The cost for singles is $35 and doubles is $35 for each player. Students (ages 8-18) will receive a $10 discount. All proceeds will go directly to the RBHS boys and girls tennis teams. Items such as new team uniforms for the girls squad and tennis equipment like ball machines are possible purchases to benefit the program.
As a first-year head coach, Weiss did an admirable job last spring. The varsity finished 6-5 and the junior varsity recorded a top-three finish in conference.
"We had to figure out some things as they came up, but we had a great group of guys," Weiss said. "Some of the kids started with little to no tennis experience and made big improvements. Looking forward, we want kids to be part of our program. Like anything in life though, they will need to practice and put in the work to get better. It's really about having a successful tennis attitude and work ethic."
Positively influenced by Weiss' coaching style, varsity players William Dowling, Stephen Berger, Neil Styx, Alex Mercado, Dylan Meehan and Owen Leander led the Bulldogs last season.
"Mr. Weiss always kept track of how we were playing individually and changed the lineup to reward players that improved," Dowling said. "That encouraged us to work hard at practice, especially since he implemented a pyramid system where you could challenge teammates for higher spots."
With 10 varsity players and 34 overall in the program, Weiss appears to have numbers he can work with in terms of building a sustainable and successful program.
"We want to continue to improve our players' skills," Weiss said. "About 90 percent of the kids who play tennis at RB start [playing] their freshman year, so we want them to continue practicing during the offseason and participating in developmental camps over the summer."
For more information or to register for the tournament, email Weiss at: firstname.lastname@example.org.
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