EDWARDSVILLE — It was another successful year for the Tiger Classic.
The junior tournament is the second in the summer series of fundraiser tourneys for the EHS tennis program. The Edwardsville Open was the first and the third will be the Junior Novice scheduled for July 16-17.
This year's Tiger Classic showcased 78 players in age groups from 10-18 from Friday through Sunday at the EHS Tennis Center.
“It's a junior tournament for intermediate to advanced players and it takes a tremendous amount of support to pull off an event like this,” tournament director Dave Lipe said. “It starts with our host sponsors, Scott Credit Union and Leskera Law Firm. Without them this would not be a successful fundraising effort for the boys' and girls' teams at Edwardsville High School. We also get support from B.J.'s Printables, Goodsports and Joe's Market Basket. Between those five entities it's a good deal. Besides them we work closely with the St. Louis District office and director Mary Vassar and she gives us tremendous support.”
The tournament showcased a slew of Edwardsville players, but also other netters from surrounding communities like Alton, Roxana, Troy Belleville and beyond.
Lipe welcomes all the players with open arms. Many of them participate in the Edwardsville Tennis Academy program and Lipe enjoys being able to expand interest in the sport he loves.
“A lot of those kids train with us in the Edwardsville Tennis Academy,” Lipe said. “Abby Fischer (Alton) and all the Roxana girls that you saw in the tournament, Kylie McCarthy of Triad, so Edwardsville High kids, it's very satisfying to watch them be successful, but we're rooting for all the kids to play their best tennis. I have a special interest with the kids that train with us that go to the other local schools like Abby, Kylie and those Roxana girls like Sydney Owsley, Haley Milazzo, Sara Kreutztrager. It's fun for our coaching staff to watch those kids be successful and it's great for the kids that aren't training with us to have the opportunity. It's great for tennis in the area to have this event. It's good for the sport. Without events like this the sport would die, so these types of events are critical.”
There were 11 different divisions at the Tiger Classic, some in bracketed format and others played as a round robin.
Zachary Harris of Mascoutah won the boys' 18 singles, besting Donald Kern of Ballwin, Mo. 6-1, 6-4 in the finals. Lauren Hambrock of Terre Haute, Ind. beat Troy's Kylie McCarthy 6-0, 6-2 in the title tilt of the 18 girls' singles. Cade Cunnane of St. Louis topped Drake Schreiber of Lebanon 6-0, 6-1 in boys' 16 singles, while Chole McIsaac of Fairview Heights prevailed in the girls' 16 singles, beating Isabel Burwitz of Swansea 6-1, 6-1.
The boys' 14 singles title went to Nicholas Fischer of Maryland Heights, who defeated Mount Vernon's Daniel Song 6-3, 7-6 (4). The girls' 14 singles winner was Audrey McDonnell of Weldon Springs, Mo., who topped Jennaka Cain of Collinsville 6-4, 6-0 in the championship match.
The other divisions were all round robin format. Edwardsville's Alex Wilson won the boys' 10 singles, Chloe Koons of Glen Carbon won the girls' 12 singles, Kaylyn DelVecchio and Madison Hamilton, both of Swansea, won the girls' 16 doubles, Morgan Colbert of Glen Carbon and Grace Desse of Edwardsville won the girls' 18 doubles and Logan Pursell and Daniel Thomas, both of Edwardsville, prevailed in the boys' 18 doubles.
Lipe praised his staff for doing an excellent job of making the tournament run smoothly, even through a weather delay. Play was postponed on Saturday night due to lightning encompassing the courts and short rain showers, but it picked back up without any hitches on Sunday.
“I had excellent help,” Lipe said. “I organized the tournament in advance, but I was only there for about half of it. Emily Cimarolli, Callaghan Adams and Mallory Abert, those three gals did a tremendous job at the front desk for nearly all of this tournament.”
As Lipe reminisces about the tournament's evolution, it has come a long way. Not only did it showcase local talent, but displayed Missouri talent, central and southern Illinois talent and even kids from Indiana traveling to participate.
“I was talking with Joe Gugger and we were reminiscing about the very first year that I started the tournament in the summer of 1995 after I completed my first year (at EHS),” Lipe said. “It was just a case of balls out of the trunk of my car and telling the kids that I just started giving lessons to that they needed to play tournaments and this is how they were going to do it. Every year we just expanded it and made it a bit better and now it's the tournament that you see today, which gives about 100 kids a chance to play and not just local kids. There were several out of town families.
“There were hotel rooms bought and sold because of this and there was a definite economic impact as a result of this tournament. Obviously not the same kind of impact as our pro tournament, but still, it's a three-day tournament with a lot of families in town enjoying our restaurants.”
And Lipe was happy to see the success of the Tiger Classic with the adult tournament, the Bud Simpson Open, going on at Lewis and Clark Community College in Godfrey. He thinks it shows the affection toward the sport of tennis in the area.
“Our friends in Alton were hosting the Bud Simpson and our tournament obviously doesn't compete with that because they're an adult tournament and we're a junior tournament, so we want that tournament to continue to thrive,” Lipe said. “I think it's awesome that tournament is a wild card tournament (into Futures). That's really great for local players and the people in Alton have done a great job promoting that tournament and the sport of tennis is alive and well in the Riverbend area.”