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Atlanta Tennis Players Ace Fundraising



By Lindsay Penticuff and Megan Thornton

There is a spirit in metro Atlanta tennis players that drives them to not only be competitive on the court, but also strive to do good works for locals, especially when it comes to raising money for a variety of charities in the area.

“The support of the tennis community has been overwhelming,” says Jim Hamm, executive director at Special Populations Tennis. “The metro Atlanta tennis community provides us access to volunteers with a shared passion for both the sport of tennis, regardless of tennis prowess, and a heart for helping others. We are truly a grassroots volunteer organization, and the key to our success has been the many volunteers who serve as instructors, coaches, playing partners, chaperones, umpires and mentors in all our programs.”

Special Pops is just one of many organizations that tennis pro-am charities raise money for each year. It was formed in 2005 by a group of local tennis enthusiasts with a heart for giving back to the game, Hamm says. Their mission is to provide a meaningful tennis experience to children and adults with intellectual disabilities through the lifetime sport of tennis. The program started with fewer than 60 athletes utilizing three training facilities, and it’s grown to now serving more than 625 athletes at 14 tennis sites. Approximately $105,000 is raised annually for Special Pops Tennis through grants, fundraisers, sponsors and individual donors.

“Local tennis players and tennis organizations around the nation often ask, ‘Do you get any support from ALTA?’ This is one of the easiest questions for us to answer. The response is ‘Yes,’” Hamm says. “And that has been true from the inception of Special Pops Tennis. The ALTA Foundation has been the primary sponsor of our annual Fall Classic Adaptive Tennis Tournament, the largest adaptive tennis match play event in the country, since the inaugural event in 2006.”

Special Pops Tennis also relies heavily on Atlanta’s tennis community for leadership, Hamm adds. “Atlanta offers us top-quality facilities, world-class tennis pros and businesses with a dedication to community outreach. Local country clubs like Summit Chase, Country Club of Roswell and the Dunwoody Country Club have held pro-am fundraisers to benefit our organization. Other sites, like The Standard Club, host a weekly training program. And the LifeTime Athletic and Tennis first-class venue hosts a weekly training program as well as our above-mentioned Fall Classic Adaptive Tennis Tournament.”

Tennis directors at many of the area’s clubs are humbled by the opportunity to give back, too. “I learned from an early age that giving back is important,” says Creig Matthieson, director of tennis at St Ives Country Club. “This philosophy of giving back to the community stems from my high school days at Jesuit College Prep in Dallas, where the school motto was ‘Service to Others.’ I have always held this motto close at heart and wanted to continue this tradition of giving back when I came to St Ives in 1993. The St Ives Pro-Member Invitational was begun that same year, and it has enjoyed 22 successful years thanks to all of our loyal sponsors and members.”

“Country clubs are a tennis haven,” adds Marcus Rutsche, athletic director and pro-am tournament director at the Country Club of Roswell, “but we are all so fortunate to be able to play. Each year, our members choose a charity to help those less fortunate. Partnering with Special Pops is a way to share our love for the game with a special group of people who truly value these kinds of tennis experiences. Raising money and awareness to this cause means all populations can enjoy our sport!”

Matt Grayson, athletics and tennis director at Ansley Golf Club, says his members especially enjoy helping raise funds for charities that help children and their families. “I think it is important for our members and their kids to realize that they are in a position where they can help people and that they need to take the opportunity to do so,” he says. “So many people take for granted that most things in their life are going well and a sick child or health issue can change things very quickly. I think these type events can help keep people’s perspective in order.”

Below is a listing of several of metro Atlanta’s tennis clubs, in addition to the events they hold annually, the amount raised last year, how many members and pros came out in support of the pro-ams and what charitable organizations benefited from the fundraising efforts.

Ansley Golf Club
Play it Forward Ansley Charity Pro-am Weekend
Total amount raised in 2015: $55,000
Number of participants: 160 tennis players, 84 golfers and 300-plus attended the Casino Night and Auction
Charitable organizations: Atlanta Ronald McDonald House, Southeastern Brain Tumor Foundation, Georgia Tennis Foundation

Country Club of Roswell
2015 CCR Charity Tennis Pro-am
Total amount raised in 2015: $22,500
Number of participants: 112
Charitable organization: Special Pops Tennis

Druid Hills Golf Club
Play for Patrick Benefit to Press On for Neuroblastoma Research
Total amount raised in 2015: $125,000
Number of participants: 180
Charitable organization: Press On

Dunwoody Country Club
Dunwoody Country Club 2015 Charity Event
Total amount raised in 2015: $290,000
Number of participants: 96
Charitable organizations: Special Olympics Georgia, The Ryan Seacrest Foundation

Laurel Springs
Laurel Springs Pro-am Charity Tennis Tournament
Total amount raised in 2015: $20,000
Number of participants: 64
Charitable organization: Kingdom Kids

St Ives Country Club
2015 Infiniti of Gwinnett/Subaru of Gwinnett St Ives Pro Member Tennis Invitational
Total amount raised in 2015: $18,000
Number of participants: 96
Charitable organizations: Charity Guild of St Ives and the charities it supports, including North Fulton Community Charities, Chris Kids, Senior Services North Fulton, STAR House and Wellspring Living

The Falls of Autry Mill
The Falls of Autry Mill Pro-am
Total amount raised in 2015: $19,775
Number of participants: 120
Charitable organization: American Cancer Society

The River Club
The River Club’s Charity Pro-am
Total amount raised in 2015: $65,000
Number of participants: 60
Charitable organization: The Sport of Giving – Gwinnett Medical Center Foundation (supporting women’s cancer care and prevention)

TPC Sugarloaf
2015 TPC Sugarloaf Charity Weekend and Tennis Pro-am
Total amount raised in 2015: $300,000
Number of participants: 56
Charitable organizations: Birdies for the Brave, Vigilant Torch, Spectrum Autism Support Group, WCSCC (Sugarloaf Women’s Charities)

The Standard Club
The Standard Club Pro-am
Total amount raised in 2015: $11,000
Number of participants: 50
Charitable organization: Twin Lakes

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