Record turnout for annual tourney to benefit Grassroots Tennis

The 10th Annual Autumn Classic Tennis Tournament to benefit Norwalk Grassroots Tennis proved to be the biggest and best yet, with more than 150 area high school tennis players taking part last Sunday.

The event featured four doubles tournaments, for varsity girls and boys, and junior varsity girls and boys. Action took place at Longshore Park in Westport and Weston Field Club.

This year’s tournament grew by more more than 40 players over last year. The final tally was 154 registrants, one-third of whom are varsity players from nearly every Fairfield County town. Several Grassroots Tennis players are took part in the tournament.

Wilton was very involved in the success of the tournament, in terms of organization, participants and support from local businesses.

“Wilton really, really showed up,” said Wilton parent Wendy Murphy, who was one of the adult supervisors who helped the high schoolers plan and run the event.

“It’s all done by the kids,” said Murphy.

Norwalk Grassroots Tennis is an organization that provides tennis and developmental programs for Norwalk’s inner-city youth. It has grown into a year-round program, with many area tennis clubs, included Four Seasons Racquet Club in Wilton, offering court time during the winter.

The tourney is organized by a committee made up of students from each participating Fairfield County high school, with one chairperson from each school.

Wilton High junior Henry Murphy was Wilton’s chair for the event. Members of the committee from Wilton were seniors Owen Mckessy, Chuck Li and Jelana Sypher (varsity), and junior Teddy Hattenbach and senior Lindsay Kuzco (JV).

The Wilton team of Sypher and sophomore Izzy Koziol won the girls varsity tournament, defeating the Greenwich High team of Kendall Schrohe and Melanie Leguizamon in the finals.

Another Wilton team, freshmen Grace Cahill and Emma Caldwell, made it to the quarterfinals of the girls varsity event.

In the boys varsity tournament, the Wilton team of Murphy and McKessy reached the quarterfinals.

Kuzco and junior Mackenzie McCormick also were quarterfinalists in the girls JV draw.

Murphy was the winner in the fastest serve contest, clocking in at 100 miles per hour.

A total of 17 players from Wilton High played in the tournament this year.

The winning team in the boys varsity tournament was Harris Walker and Matt Roer from King School in Stamford.

The tournament was conceived and inaugurated in 2008 and raised more than $3,000 the first year. This year’s event raised $20,625 through registration fees ($75 per player) and sponsors. Some sponsors are annual supporters of the event, but others were solicited by committee members.

The tournament went off smoothly, despite the record number of players. While the competition was intense, the focus of the players was not so much on winning as participating and helping Grassroots Tennis.

“It was just fantastic. There was such a buzz around, with a really nice energy. It was all positive and it was all about Grassroots,” said Murphy. “It was a lot of fun.”