Area tennis tournament raises cash for a cause

MIDDLEBURY — An enthusiastic local tennis community rallied to raise $1,575 in support of the nonprofit Vermont Cancer Survivor Network, or VCSN, in a tournament held late last month in Middlebury.
Middlebury Indoor Tennis (MIT) and SoJo Tennis teamed up to host the benefit tennis tournament on Oct. 24-25 at the MIT club. Franz Collas, owner of SoJo Tennis, and Heather Potter, who volunteered her time, co-directed the tournament, which featured dozens of players taking part in three days of doubles competition.
“It was the players and volunteers who made this event a resounding success,” Collas reflected. “Folks who hadn’t played tennis in over a year showed up and played because it was for such a great cause. Members who couldn’t play in the tournament still made a contribution.”
Nearly 40 men and women played in the tournament, representing 20 doubles teams. Winners of the Men’s A Draw were Errol Nattrass and Andy Chmura, and the Men’s B Draw winners were the father/son team of Mark and Nate Slattery. Winners of the Women’s A Draw were Sarah Peluso and Sally Carver, and the Women’s B Draw winners were Marge McDonnell and Deb Buley.
The Vermont Cancer Survivor Network is a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization founded in 2007 by cancer survivors to create a voice for cancer survivors in Vermont. VCSN strives to improve the quality of life for anyone living with cancer by providing programs of support, information and education; celebrating cancer survivorship; advocating for cancer survivors; and collaborating with related institutions and organizations. Sherry Rhynard, program director for the Vermont Cancer Survivor Network, spent two days getting to know the tennis community in Middlebury.
“I was humbled by the amount of time that went into the event by MIT and SoJo Tennis, the number of sponsors, the generosity of the participants and people who prepared food,” Rhynard commented.
Key to the success of this fundraising effort was the support of nearly 20 sponsors and dozens of volunteers. Volunteers from Middlebury Indoor Tennis and VCSN joined with Greg’s Meat Market and Middlebury Discount Beverage to contribute to an impressive spread of refreshments to keep players and spectators fortified for two days. Prizes and in-kind support were donated by USTA New England, Tata Harper Next Generation Beauty, Woodware, Vermont Hard Cider, Deb Kelley, Head Penn Racquet Sports, Phelps Engineering, Mister Up’s, Forth ’N Goal, Edgewater Gallery, Middlebury Fitness, and Kurrent Interactive.
MIT, now part of the Addison Community Athletics Foundation, donated all of the court time for the two-day tournament.
“This kind of event is a perfect fit for MIT’s new direction,” noted MIT founder David and Eleanor Ignat. “Using our facility for a fundraisers tournament to support the work of an important local nonprofit is a win for everyone.”
Franz Collas summed it up:
“It’s amazing what can be accomplished when a lot of people pitch in for a good cause. It was a lot of work to pull this tournament together, but VCSN has the harder and more important job. They’re the ones who are out there helping people and families living with cancer every day and I’m glad the efforts of our tennis community can help keep their good work going.”
For more information about the VCSN or to donate to the organization, visit their website at www.vcsn.net.

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