BY KATHERINE MURRAY WEEKLY REPORTER
O’FALLON – It was a family affair at St. Clair Tennis on Hartman Lane last Saturday. The venue hosted a parent-child tennis tournament open to all ages and “combinations” of family members where the main goal for all was to have a great time and share a love of the sport. Fourteen pairs in total participated.
“We try to run the event early in the spring each year,” owner Mark Brunner said. “It’s an amusing, laid back event, with door prizes rather than trophies, so everyone is enjoying themselves.”
The youngest child in the tournament was just six. Drew Buehler is brand new to tennis, but says she loves taking lessons at St. Clair. Her favorite part of the experience was the back and forth with her opponents. She was joined in the tournament by her Pawpaw, Andrew Hauser.
Brunner said he set up the tournament to line competition up based on ability. For the youngest children, they use special balls that move just a little slower and are softer on impact, and modified the rules to give them the best chance for success.
“The point is always fun,” Brunner said.
Fun was the goal for the mother-son duo Mary and RJ Miksell. RJ, a twelve-year-old attending Pontiac Junior High, hopes to play tennis in high school. He and his mother began taking tennis together. RJ has moved on to the advance classes while Mary, who started in the adult beginner classes, is now playing in a women’s league. “It’s become a great workout for me,” Mary adds.
Kael Holzgrafe, a second grader who came in from Quincy, has family ties to the event.
“My grandpa runs the event, and a lot of family are playing in it,” Holzgrafe said. “Sometimes it’s hard to play against family. Sometimes not.”
His favorite part of playing with his father is when his dad serves up an ace to the opponent. “I love watching it fly by them,” he said with a big smile.
There was both a recreational division and a more competitive flight, though everyone found enjoyment.
Laughter could be heard across the courts as children teased their parents, parents fought to keep up with their young partners, and everyone let the love of the game take them away.