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Westchase Open a Smashing Success

Unseasonable cold weather did not chill the enthusiasm for the inaugural Westchase Open Tennis Charity Exhibition.

On Jan. 5-7 more than 130 tennis players filled the tennis courts at the West Park Village Swim and Tennis Center and the Westchase Swim and Tennis Center on Countryway Boulevard. According to organizers, the event was an overwhelming success and they look forward to it becoming an annual event.

“It was a phenomenal event and could not have been accomplished without the support of our volunteers, sponsors and our community association,” said Radcliffe resident Eric Pogue, who, along with his family, conceived the idea of organizing the tournament. “We met our financial goal, raising just over $15,000 for the Westchase Charitable Foundation.”

Pogue said that tennis players competed in twelve different divisions including seniors, youth doubles and singles, mixed doubles, women’s and men’s doubles and men’s open. He added, “Not only did we meet our financial goals, but we celebrated our seniors, provided an example for our children on the importance of serving others, connected with our neighbors, met new friends and had a great time along the way.”

Last fall Pogue approached the Westchase Community Association (WCA) about the possibility of having a tennis charity event in Westchase. An active tennis player himself, Pogue has two daughters who are also very involved with the sport and who spend a lot of time on the weekends practicing or at tournaments. “Playing tennis tournaments had begun to prohibit us from doing some of the service projects we used to do,” said Pogue. “We wanted to use the sport as a tool for service.”

Pogue knew there were many tennis players in Westchase who would be interested in such an event and credits many of its residents with helping to make the tournament a success. “Rick Goldstein was our WCA board liaison and we had a core group who organized the event. Kristen DeAngelo was very involved with all aspects and did anything that needed to be done to make the event happen; Jim Morgan was our tournament director and corporate sponsor leader; Heidi Pogue organized the gala; Caren Smith performed many tasks behind the scenes and organized our silent auction items and Chris Henderson brought in a ton of highly-talented players and organized our exhibition game. This event would not have been possible without the help of these individuals.”

The exhibition game pitted Westchase resident tennis players against top players from across the area, including numerous former tennis pros. The Westchase team won 2-1. “It was a ton of fun,” said Pogue. “The tennis was spectacular.”

The tournament raised more than $15,000 for the Westchase Charitable Foundation (WCF), a non-profit organization founded and led by Westchase residents. The WCF supports families who have children or parents battling a serious illness or who are faced with a family tragedy. WCF President Sean O’Donnell, who has been with the WCF for more than 13 years, said that the typical grant to families is $5,000. “The Westchase Open was so fun and so well put together and it is going to allow us to help three families whose children have been harmed by a recent tragedy.”

Pogue is looking forward to the event becoming an annual tradition. “We already have people signed up to be involved next year and corporate sponsors who want to be sponsors again. Next year it will be even better.”

Corporate sponsors for this year’s event included Laser Locators, Onoxa, Annabelle’s Furniture, Shumaker, Loop & Kendrick, LLP, Tropical Risk Management, Embroidered Pelican, Seafood Exchange Grill & Bar, Advisar, pduff photography, ENT Associates and others.

To view and purchase event photos, visit http://www.pduffphotography.com/Events/Miscellaneous/Westchase-Open (See .pages 84-85 for some tournament photos.)

For more information about the Westchase Charitable Foundation visit http://www.westchasefoundation.org

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For more information about the tournament visit http://www.westchaseopen.com

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Westchase Open Tennis Winners

Seniors: Tony and Carmen Fiorito
Youth Doubles: Sophie Llewellyn and Ashlen DiCicco
Youth A Singles: Sophie Llewellyn
Youth B Singles: Audrey Pogue
Mixed A Doubles: Stephen Lappano and Stephanie Means
Mixed B Doubles: Jason Garcia and Mollie Garcia
Women’s A Doubles: Stephanie Means and Allison Lowie
Women’s B Doubles: Lisa Lowe and Theresa Smith
Women’s B- Doubles: Karen Miller and Rosemarie Kesselring
Men’s Open: Chris Henderson
Men’s A Doubles: David Hennessee and Sam Frizzelle
Men’s B Doubles: Karthik Thilakarajan and Rufino Medicielo

By Marcy Sanford; Photos by Pat Duffey

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