By James Kay
Last year, an overbearing heat index was the main obstacle for Riverside-Brookfield High School's new annual tennis tournament. This year, it's a global pandemic.
The Bulldogs' boys and girls tennis head coach, Sam Weiss, is holding the tournament for the second year in a row to raise money for RBHS' tennis program. Despite 100-degree weather last year, the team was able to raise over $1,000.
However, due to the healthy concerns over the spread of COVID-19, there haven't been as many people who have signed up for the tournament this year. Weiss is pushing forward with the event after coordinating with the school to host a singles weekend on July 24-25 and a doubles weekend on July 31-Aug. 1.
"We think this is going to be a good way of getting the community involved after all that it has been through," said Weiss. "With safety in mind, we are looking to get more members of the community involved and make this an annual tournament. The only negative feedback we had last year was the hot temperature, so we are just trying to get the word out and raise money for our program."
According to the event's flyer, the cost for participating in the singles weekend is $35 a player, while doubles weekend is $30 for each player. It will be a best two out of three, double-elimination tournament, guaranteeing everyone a minimum of two matches. Because of the unprecedented circumstances, the goal is to reach $500.
Marc Lagler, who played tennis at RBHS, participated last year and will do so again this year. Because tennis is naturally physically distant, Lagler isn't too worried about the spread of COVID-19 at the event because everyone will be spread out.
"I feel like it's definitely a helpful distraction for everyone in the community," said Lagler. "I think about all the [RBHS] players that didn't get to play this season. Being able to go out there after losing the [spring] season is going to be great, because we worked so hard. And this is open to the Riverside-Brookfield community so it's going to be great."
The tournament is going to follow the IHSA's Phase Four guidelines released on July 3. On July 9, the IHSA announced it is working with the Illinois Department of Public Health to revise the guidelines to exclude activities involving contact while implementing other safety measures.
However, even though the event will be held at RBHS' tennis courts, the guidelines won't impact the timing of the tournament since it is a community event that Weiss is coordinating, according to the school.
To ensure safety, all participants will have their temperatures taken before they enter the courts. There will be three balls per match and only the players involved in each respective match will use them. Players can sanitize hands and equipment as needed at the end of the match or in between games.
If you want to sign up, you can find the forms here.