The Tennis Club of Santa Barbara hosted the fifth annual Special Olympics Tennis Classic.

Michael Weinstein Photo

The Tennis Club of Santa Barbara hosted the fifth annual Special Olympics Tennis Classic.

Special Olympics Tennis Classic

S.B. Tennis Club Hosts its Fifth Annual Clinic

You can have Wimbledon, the U.S. Open, and all the Grand Slam stuff. Raffa. Roger. Serena. Sharapova. They’re all yours. Give me these guys any day—the Santa Barbara Tennis Club (SBTC) and the 30 spirited Special Olympians who have come ready to play, along with an entourage of adoring fans.

It’s the annual Special Olympics Tennis Classic, where the Riviera blends into Mission Canyon — the Santa Barbara Tennis Club (SBTC)!

“It’s our fifth one and everyone is having fun,” said CathyAnn Simon, executive director of the Santa Barbara Tennis Patrons, the event’s organizer in partnership with SB Special Olympics of Southern California.

“It’s a great event and a real joy for us to host every year,” added Charlotte Valentine, SBTC director of operations. “The opening ceremony is amazing to see the athletes smiling and so happy to be participating. We just love it!“

It’s one of the hottest days of the year, yet no one is complaining. Spectators sit shaded courtside — Harvey Bottelsen, the Club’s owner among them, as well as Ethel Byers, the Grand Dame of Santa Barbara Tennis.

There’s also a cadre of talented volunteers—pros Jerry Hatchett (Knollwood), Adam Webster (SBTC), Jake Nelson (Cathedral Oaks), along with area high school players; UCSB and Westmont’s men’s and women’s teams; and community groups, like Santa Barbara Aces, Tennis For All and Dudes on Duty.

When all paired together, John Kinsella, tennis pro (La Cumbre CC), runs everyone through a series of fun agility drills right there on the cool “short courts”…

“It means a lot for our athletes to work closely with these younger players,” said Michelle Dukes, special events and volunteer manager for S.B. Special Olympics. “It really promotes inclusion in our schools and in our community.”

The clinic was a prelude to the real tourney, which happened that afternoon.

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