Lately, I’ve posted several opportunities for junior players to get in some tournament play outside of the traditional USTA system: ITA Summer Circuit, Oracle ITA Junior Masters Series, and a variety of money tournaments. None is closer to my heart than the Sol Schwartz #SaveCollegeTennis All-In Tournament presented by Holabird Sports.
As you may recall, the Tennis World lost one of its biggest advocates this past March when my dear friend, Sol Schwartz, passed away unexpectedly. I was unable to go to his funeral in Baltimore, but I knew I wanted to do something meaningful to honor the memory of my friend. For several weeks I wracked my brain to come up with something. Making a monetary donation wasn’t going to cut it. Neither was setting up a scholarship fund. Sol was all about effecting change through tennis, so I knew that whatever I did needed to be sustainable and impactful. That’s how the Sol Schwartz #SaveCollegeTennis All-In Tournament idea was born.
Since I’ve never run a real tournament before, I knew I needed help. Lots of help. I reached out to others in the Tennis World who were close to Sol and who had connections to the tournament realm. That’s how our amazing organizing committee came to be: David Hirshfeld (Holabird Sports), Rob Hubbard (UMBC Tennis which has sadly been cut), Randy Jenks (UTR), and Melanie Rubin (Tennis Parent Extraordinaire). We have also consulted with Sol’s family who have been a great help in terms of logo design (thank you to Sol’s niece, Ali!), promotion ideas, and sponsorship.
The tournament is now a reality. It will take place August 20-21, 2016, at The Suburban Club in Pikesville, Maryland, a suburb of Baltimore where Sol lived with his family. It is open to all junior players age 18 and under. In keeping with Sol’s commitment to making tennis affordable for all, we have kept the entry fee very low at $30 per player.
Here are the particulars:
- The title sponsor is Holabird Sports
- 16-draw for boys and 16-draw for girls (it is an open 18-and-under draw)
- Selection and seeding will be done using UTR
- Compass draw ensures each player will get 4 matches
- On-court coaching is allowed at changeovers
- Each player will receive a print program which will include player photos and bios
- The winner will receive a one-year clothing and equipment sponsorship from a major tennis manufacturer
- This event is non-USTA sanctioned but will be included in UTR
My hope is that this event will grow and spread to cities across the US. While I wanted to host this inaugural event on a college campus, we weren’t able to make that happen this year. But, the goal is to have Sol Schwartz tournaments in several cities by next summer, all hosted on college campuses in order to raise awareness about the beauty of college tennis. Ever since I met Sol, his mission was to #SaveCollegeTennis, and I’m hoping these tournaments help achieve that mission. Long-term, we would like to establish a 501(c)3 non-profit so the proceeds from these events can be used in the form of grants to college programs in danger of being discontinued.
Hope to see you in Maryland!