By Jim Couper
At the same time as Canada’s best tennis players are competing in the Davis Cup semi-finals in Belgrade this weekend, a Kelowna charity tournament will also take place at the same time with connections to the Serbian event.
Vasek Pospisil, of Vernon, will represent Canada at the Davis Cup, but one of his racquets will be in Kelowna. Pospisil, who has done well recently at Wimbledon and Rogers Cup, donated an autographed racquet that will be up for auction as part of Kelowna’s 12th annual Celebrity Tennis Classic.
The Classic begins with opening ceremonies tonight, 6 p.m., at the home court of Walley and Marietta Lightbody, 3202 Abbott St.. Money raised goes to children’s needs at Kelowna General Hospital. Seating is limited to 200.
A player who has represented Canada internationally, Joachim Nierfeld, will be on the Kelowna court tonight, partnered with Stephen Kimoff, president of Tennis B.C. and past Canadian champion.
Nierfeld is preparing to represent Canada for a fourth time at Senior World Team Tennis, in April, in Florida. A recent win in the Canadian championships in Vancouver earned him the spot.
Nierfeld will be honoured prior to the match for his contributions to tennis. The duo will compete against Nierfeld’s brother Holger, Canadian indoor champion, and Michael Bitcon, the Interior doubles winner.
The Celebrity Tennis Classic is a unique fund-raiser and even those with marginal interest in tennis can enjoy the wide variety of entertainment and activities. The Kelowna Pipe Band marches in the officials at 6 p.m. and vocalist Anna Jacyszyn, accompanied by Bernie Addington on double bass, add to the opening ceremonies. The duo performs regularly at the Jazz Cafe and has won numerous awards.
Entry to the event is a $40 donation to the hospital and includes beer, wine, food, tennis, entertainment and an opportunity to toss bocce balls on the lakeside lawn on Saturday. Tickets are available at the Abbott Street court or through www. kghfoundation.com.
Draw tickets for two trips to anywhere WestJet flieswill be sold at the tennis events and are also available through KGH. The 12th annual event includes Saturday tennis and a bocce tournament on the Lightbody’s lakeside lawn at noon. The Italian game is more about socializing than competing and Friday night’s spectators are encouraged to return.
A tournament for recreational players takes place at the Mission tennis club all day Saturday. Celebrity Tennis has raised more than $600,000 for cardiac equipment at KGH. Money contributed this year by spectators and tournament participants will purchase neonatal cardiac and event monitors. In the case of the latter, children with heart problems now need to be sent to Vancouver so doctors can see exactly what is happening within their tiny chests.