Sarasota, FL (APRIL 13, 2022) –This year marked the return of the Tennis Ball: A Grand Slam Event and the Joey Gratton Tennis Championship after a two-year hiatus. Fans and community members were eager to partake in the events from Friday, April 8 to Sunday, April 10 after being unable to hold the event in previous years due to the pandemic. 2022 is the first time these events kicked off the Elizabeth Moore Sarasota Open which started on Monday, April 11 and continues through Sunday, April 17.
The itinerary started on Friday evening, with over 300 guests in attendance for the 2022 Tennis Ball: A Grand Slam Event, presented by The Elizabeth Moore Sarasota Open. The sold-out event took place at Michael’s on East in Sarasota. The Co-Chairs for the event are Barbara Lancer, Christina Bonilla, and Amy Lyons. Proceeds from The Tennis Ball: A Grand Slam Event, will support Boys & Girls Clubs of Sarasota and DeSoto Counties Foundation. Foundation Board Chair, Neil McCurry, was in attendance. Foundation Board member, Barbara Lancer, and her fellow event co-chairs were referred to as the dream team by Bill Sadlo, President/CEO. “The commitment of our Foundation Board and Co-Chairs ensures the sustainability and longevity of our impact for future generations.” During the event, he encouraged guests to take a tour to learn more about the award-winning programs and opportunities with our Clubs. “There is nothing greater than seeing the passion in our members to succeed, and by supporting Boys & Girls Clubs of Sarasota and DeSoto Counties every one seated in this room is helping our youth reach their full potential.”
Blake and Brock Gratton shared a special tribute to their father Joey Gratton and recognized the important work Boys & Girls Clubs of Sarasota and DeSoto Counties does for youth in our community. The Co-Chairs presented the Jimmy Arias Cup and scholarship to high school student, Jonah Braswell.
Club alum and Barnard College student, Vanessa Tase-Sueiro, shared her story and reminded the audience of the power of philanthropy and the impact it can make on a life. “The dreams that fill my heart today are not just for me but for my community, and this I learned at the Boys & Girls Club. Not only did I develop my entrepreneurial skills and exercise my passion for leadership and management, but The Club allowed me to dream of a career in the business sector, especially as a young woman.” Vanessa is currently pursuing an urban teaching track within her major so she can continue to help communities, a value that was instilled by her Club. Vanessa is one voice, but she represents the determination of each Club member, and she is the result of what the Clubs can do for our youth.
Next up on the agenda was the Joey Gratton Tennis Championship which took place from Saturday, April 9 to Sunday, April 10, at the Sarasota Sports Club. The Joey Gratton Tennis Championship was created in 2011 to honor his legacy and spread his passion for competition by supporting youth programs through sports. The date 11-11-11 was displayed on each bag given to guests during the event as a way to remember this incredible athlete, husband and father. His family established the Joey Gratton Foundation in his honor to create opportunities for those that may not have the chance. The Joey Gratton Foundation and Boys & Girls Clubs of Sarasota and Desoto Counties both believe in helping local youth build a greater, brighter future.
Saturday evening started with an exhibition and concluded with the Players Party after the tournament. Tennis players were given tickets for dinner, while music was performed by the Lisa Rott Band. There was a 50/50 raffle and a silent auction for people to enjoy.
Over 200 players and over 13 divisions (men’s, women’s, and mixed) competed for the cup. $1,200 was donated in prize money by Jeff and Kim LaLima. On Sunday, the winners were announced. Congratulations to the following division winners:
Open – Travis Eckert and Jose Tolentino
9.0 – Andre Herke and Bojan Vuckovic
8.0 – Calvin Hac and Eric Abbott
7.0 – Hung Nguyen and Marc Solomon
55 and Over – Bryan Goodwin and Keith King
Open – Abby Hincker and Mary Walker Mixon
9.0 – Debbie Crowley and Liz Nelson
8.0 – Yudi Carpenter and Coquina Homer
7.0 – Linsea Arnold and Lysa Pyser
Mixed Doubles Division
Open – Nathan Saragoza and Ruth Crawford
9.0 – Jeff Stern and Adrianna Garcia
8.0 – Michael Boothman and Roberta Smith
7.0 – Hung Nguyen and Cristina Tomadin
The festivities came to a close on Tuesday, April 12, as the Elizabeth Moore Sarasota Open held a check presentation for Boys & Girls Clubs of Sarasota and DeSoto Counties Foundation as charity partners. The weekend would not have been possible without the commitment from our amazing sponsors and committee members. Thank you all!