BY Michael Quirk Key West Citizen
In the summer of 2014, Arthur Hancock, a lifetime tennis fanatic, was searching for a way to rouse local interest in his favorite sport. A frequent participant in games on the courts at Bayview Park, Hancock was inspired by the US Open and created the Key West Open Tennis Tournament Series, a string of six monthly tennis tournaments for adults held from October to March. “We wanted to hold it during the months where it’s not as hot, so that Northerners will be here and we can have more players,” he said. “It went very well.”
After the success of the tournament for adults, Hancock turned his attention to the local youth, particularly for underserved children. Hancock received a commitment from a friend with World Team Tennis who has agreed to donate a set of rackets for kids who otherwise cannot afford them. “The whole idea is to promote the sport of tennis and expose these kids to the sport,” he said. “A lot of these kids in, say, Bahama Village, have never been to a tennis court before.” There are tennis tournaments provided by Tennis Association South Florida and Paradise Tennis for children ages 5-14 for those that have experience.
Beginners in the sport are invited to attend the next Kids Tennis Carnival at the 1800 Atlantic Blvd. Condo Association, tentatively scheduled for the end of August or beginning of September. At the last carnival, held on June 30, more than 20 children turned out with pizza provided by Pizza Hut and Gatorade supplied by Winn-Dixie. “We’ve had very supportive sponsors and a lot of support from (City Commissioner) Clayton Lopez and Island 107 (radio station),” Hancock said. “We want to invite kids to come out and hit some balls, get exposed to the game and learn how to play.”
For more information on tournaments or the carnival, contact Hancock at 395-0085, or Paradise Tennis’s Nicole Berger at 395-1035.