Good morning. “WICKED AWESOME” is what one athlete called the Winston Salem Adaptive Open. This quote was from Henry who lives in Boston. He has never travelled to a tennis tournament before and he had a blast. He has already committed to coming back next year as did all the players/coaches and parents.
For two and a half days we were closed away from the rest of the world as we played many hours of tennis, made new friendships, ate a lot of food, went to a baseball game and played more tennis. Even though it was pouring rain outside, it never affected what we were doing inside. Many thanks to Vision Tennis Center for opening up their doors and hearts for everyone. The facility is one of the best indoor facilities I have ever seen and the hospitality was heartfelt. Many thanks to Alex Rucker, David Livingood, Cacey Salpaugh, Nan Crisman and countless others who stepped up to help us. A special thanks goes out to John and Peggy Taylor who so generously donate use of the facility.
When you plan such an event like the Winston Salem Adaptive Open, knowing it is the first national adaptive tennis tournament in NC, you pull out all the guns. It all starts with an amazing team. The ATANC, Vision Tennis Center, USTA NC, NC Tennis Foundation, Winston Tennis Inc. and Visit Winston Salem provided all the funds so that all of our athletes and families didn’t have to pay to come and play. One of the goals of the ATANC is to provide adaptive tennis to everyone at no cost. Bringing together this special team made that happen.
Justin Hunsucker is a local Winston Salem athlete. His father Charles is his coach and the local Special Olympics coach. His mother Francis is the quiet behinds-the-scenes helper. Without this special family support, their desire for a local tournament, and all their friends and family, we could not have had this event. Justin’s passion for sharing his love of tennis with others and his love for his hometown was the key to bringing it all together. Charles along with RandellBlankenship helped gather all our outstanding volunteers. Wearing bright yellow shirts,they brought such a sense of professionalism to the tournament. One of the volunteers, Neil, came out to help on Friday and stayed all day. He had so much fun that he came back for the second day and stayed. Our volunteers make such a difference. Thank you.
Finally our stars – the athletes. We had athletes from all over North Carolina, VA and Boston Mass. Overall we had 28 special needs athletes participate. The level of tennis from the short court players all the way up to the highest level full court players was a sight worth seeing. Old rivalries being renewed, new ones forming, words of encouragement to the opponent, thank you for the volunteers were all par of the game. I am constantly amazed at what these guys are able to do. From drop shots to lobs, to being able to see Nick serve the ball overhead. WOW. The hugs, the smiles, the laughter – and we all did laugh a lot – will fondly be remembered from this event. A special, special thank you goes out to the parents and coaches. Your incredible and faithful support, words of affirmation and the smiles on your faces when you watch your child or athlete compete is one of the main reasons the ATANC does what it does. We want to celebrate you too, thank you.
So after many months of planning, to having a vision of what we wanted to do. We can say without a doubt that the Winston Salem Adaptive Open was a huge success and we are already thinking about how we can do better next year. Thank you to all who came, all who volunteered and to our amazing athletes, YOU ROCK and, to quote Henry again,”The Winston Salem Adaptive Open will go in the record books as “WICKED AWESOME”
Executive Director, ATANC