Around the Island

Tennis tournament rallies back to life: Library fundraiser on the books

The U.S. Open may be just around the corner, but Islanders can indulge their passion for the original “sport of kings” sooner with the return of the Shelter Island Library Tennis Tournament on Saturday, August 21 at the newly refurbished Shelter Island School courts on Duvall Road.

Men’s, women’s and mixed doubles teams will gather at 8 a.m. to compete in a Round Robin, run with the invaluable skills of Moussa Dramé of Moussa Dramé’s Tennis Academy. There will be a tent for keeping cool, plenty of liquid refreshment, a delicious breakfast provided by STARs Café and fabulous lunch courtesy of The Flying Goat.

Players will receive commemorative T-shirts sponsored by the Walter Richards Family. Special prizes will be awarded to the winners. But the best part is, all this fun will raise vital funds for the Shelter Island Public Library, which has served as an indispensable hub of social and intellectual sustenance in our community since 1885, and especially over these past 18 months.  

The team chairing the tournament is Linda and Chuck Kraus. On the Library Board of Trustees in the role of secretary, Linda decided four years ago to revive the Tennis Tournament, which had been popular from the late 1970s through the early 1990s, but had fallen off the annual event calendar.

Back in the day, Islander Jerry Berner (now 93) was the driving force behind the event, which, without internet or public courts, involved a lot of wrangling. His son Dan remembers, “As a gym teacher/coach and superior athlete, Dad worked magic, combining his love of tennis and the library to generate a brand new Island tradition.”

The father/son team won the men’s title several years in a row and Dan, who will be playing this year, added, “Even after the tournament faded out, many of the participants continued to play together regularly and still do, to this day.”

There are several ways to participate and support the library. Players are encouraged to sign up on the website at silibrary.org or contact Library Director Terry Lucas at 631-749-0042. The tournament entry contribution is $250 per team; the deadline for registration is August 17. Individuals and/or business owners are welcome to join the ranks of the above-mentioned local entities and make sponsorship level commitments for a minimum donation of $100. These sponsors will be listed on the T-shirt. Finally, spectators are welcome to pull up a lawn chair and cheer on their favorites from the fences, politely of course.

Chuck says the early registration has been brisk and looks competitive. But players, don’t be shy. This tournament has always been inclusive of all skill levels. Grab your racquets and set the alarm. With enough grit, who knows, you might take home the trophy. In any case, you’ll feel good getting out there for the library.

The rest of us who are fans of the game, fans of friends and family members who play, fans of reading books, please join in celebrating the community spirit that is the essence of the Shelter Island Public Library.