Sunday, April 02, 2017
When Madisen Abramson was three years old, she underwent a CAT Scan as part of a sleep study. Since birth, she had struggled with respiratory difficulties. Further tests revealed that she had a brain tumour, subsequently treated with Chemotherapy.
Fortunately, she now lives the life of a typical 12 year old, with the exception that she undergoes an MRI every three months. She has become an ambassador for Brain Tumour Survivors. In nine years, more than $ 500 000 has been raised to benefit cancer treatment centre charities throughout the nation. The fundraising takes place in and around nine tennis courts at The Landings, in South West Florida.
Friends and family came up with the concept of a tennis-based activity to help raise funds. This year's edition is the ninth, and included receptions, silent auctions, galas and live auctions. On the tennis side, there is a camp, pro-am events, and professional tennis exhibitions.
Kathy Rinaldi and Shawn Gullickson
Several tennis legends add their names, and their sweat to the event. Kathy Rinaldi was once ranked # 7 in the world. She had victories over Steffi Graf, Pan Shriver, and Jana Novotna. She currently serves as the Fed Cup Team Captain for the United States. I watched her doubles match with her partner Shawn, Tom Gullikson's wife. They were matched against the club professional at The Landings, Sam DiSimone, and his partner.There were not playing polite, Sunday afternoon tennis. Wicked serves, plenty of slice, topspin lobs that required serious hustle, nasty dropshots. All part of the game.
I spoke with Sam after the match. “We are really pleased to be able to host the event here at The Landings. It is lots of fun, with friendly competition.” The competition is friendly, but played at a very high level.
Mardy Fish played several doubles matches throughout the day, then lined up against Robby Ginepri in the final singles match. During his pro career, Mardy won six ATP titles. He was once ranked # 7 in the world, and was the # 1 American in 2011. When the ball leaves his racket, it makes a sound that I have never duplicated.
Other tennis legends at the fund-raiser included: Tom Gullikson, who won many titles with his brother Tim. He has served as US Davis Cup Team Captain, US Men's Olympic Team Coach, and is a former US Mixed Doubles Chapion; Luke Jensen, who has won 10 Doubles Titles on the ATP tour, including the French Open with his brother Murphy; Mikael Pernfors, formerly a top ten singles player who had victories over Pete Sampras, Jim Courier, and Mats Wilander; and Chani Anderson, who was a Doubles semi-finalist at Wimbledon.
Auction items caught me eye, but I managed to keep my hands at my sides: a Rolex watch, tickets to the US Tennis Open in New York City, with a 2 night hotel stay, Springsteen tickets, and hospitality access, of course, Lady Gaga tickets, with a week in a Jaguar, and a football signed by Patriots coach, Bill Belichick. Fully inflated.
Duane Chaney started the event on behalf of his niece, and is to be commended for his efforts. A great day at the courts!
April 2, 2017