BETHANY BEACH, Delaware — Athletes were serving, reversing and hitting all the tennis balls on the court Thursday, but it was more than a tournament.
“It’s just amazing to be able to spread the joy of the game and see all the smiles on their faces,” said Ethan Garren, Head Pro and Junior Coordinator at Sea Colony.
If you stood on the Sea Colony tennis courts Thursday afternoon in Bethany Beach, you’d hear cheers and tennis balls hitting rackets. A few members of Special Olympics Delaware donned their sports gear and grabbed their Sea Colony Tennis coaches to battle it out, as onlookers watched the competition.
“Well, sometimes I get nervous, but I take a deep breath, then I serve and have fun,” said Katya Bowers, one of the attendees.
Sea Colony partners with Sussex Riptide Special Olympics to bring them opportunities like this; which allows those who are part of Special Olympics to show off their skills in a variety of ways.
“For us, Sea Colony is just the best thing because we use their tennis courts, never a question, we use their pool, never a problem,” said Special Olympics tennis coach Marie McIntosh.
“I think a lot of other disabled people should try different sports like bowling and swimming and especially tennis,” Bowers said.
And, we’re told, the support of not just Sea Colony, but those watching, means so much.
“Now you’re going to make me cry, it’s so nice, you know, to have an event like this in our community where people can see our athletes in action,” McIntosh said.
“We all have a daily job that we do and to be able to make it something so enjoyable and so rewarding, we have such friendships,” said Alex Justiniani, director of racquet sports at Sea Colony.
“To see how much it means to them too is every coach’s dream, that’s how I feel,” Garren said.
While this event is special, it leads into a larger tournament this weekend which will benefit Special Olympics Sussex Riptide. “More than 275 players come to play, participate, more than 50 spectators, so it’s more than 300 people; so we’re able to give away over $3,000 at the end of the weekend,” Justiniani said.
The weekend tournament will include tennis and pickleball matches from Friday through Sunday.