In case you didn’t know, there’s a big-time tennis tournament coming to York County this weekend.
This tournament, however, is about much more than just serves and volleys.
In fact, the primary focus of the event will be on dollars and cents.
That’s because the Mixed Doubles Charity Classic at the Country Club of York has one principal goal above all others — raising money to fight the scourge of opioid abuse.
Nearly every person in York County has been touched by the opioid affliction in one manner or another. It’s a menace that does not recognize race, religion or class. It’s an equal-opportunity plague.
That’s why this weekend’s event is so important. In its previous four years, the tournament has raised more than $100,000 for charity, including $65,000 raised last year for the York Opioid Collaborative.
The fifth annual tournament, set for Saturday and Sunday and sponsored by the UPMC Health Plan, will again benefit that same cause.
Mark Koons, the director of tennis at CCY and the longtime head coach of the hugely successful Dallastown High School boys’ tennis program, is one of the driving forces behind the event. Koons emphasized that admission to the tournament is “100% free,” but spectators will have an opportunity to donate to the charity.
“We hope to have a big turnout from York’s tennis community,” Koons said.
While raising money for charity is of paramount importance this weekend, tennis is the vehicle used to drive the fundraising, and the tennis will be of high quality.
The defending champions, Punch Maleka and Charlotte Sikora, are expected to return to defend their title and the $2,500 top prize. They’ll bring an international flavor to the event, which features a total purse of $5,000. Maleka is originally from South Africa, while Sikora is originally from France.
Goodling to participate: In addition, several familiar local players will also compete. That group is headlined by Jenni Goodling, a player that Koons describes as “the most accomplished player ever from York.”
That statement is not hyperbole. Goodling competed in all four professional Grand Slam events — Australian Open, French Open, Wimbledon and U.S. Open — in doubles. She was also an NCAA Division I All-American for Rollins College.
Since retiring from the pro game, Goodling has become a well-known tennis teacher in the area and is currently on the CCY staff. She’ll be teamed with her good friend, Sean Kelleher, for this weekend's event.
Goodling, now 57, doesn’t have great competitive expectations for the tournament, saying her tennis playing career is largely over.
For Goodling, the event is much more about the cause — a cause that is near and dear to her heart. She will compete in memory of Spencer Kubala, who was an honor roll student at York Catholic, as well as an athlete and a community volunteer. Kubala died in 2016 from a drug overdose. He had become addicted to pain killers that had been prescribed for sports injuries, and later moved on to heroin.
“He had a heart that had no boundaries,” Goodling said.
Other local competitors: Goodling will be joined in the event by two other local players who are very familiar names to York tennis fans.
Holden Koons, who just happens to be Mark’s son, is back in the tournament. Holden Koons is a former Dallastown High School standout who won four District 3 singles titles during his high school career. He’ll compete on the NCAA Division I level for James Madison.
Holden Koons will be paired with another D-I recruit — Elizabeth Scotty from Annapolis, Maryland. Scotty, who is a rising senior, has committed to play for North Carolina.
Holden Koons advanced to the event’s semifinals a year ago, when he was paired with former York Suburban High standout Laura Glitz, who is currently the women's head tennis coach at Purdue.
Phil Myers, who has won two straight York City-County Men’s Open Singles crowns, will also compete this weekend. The three-time City-County champ will be paired with Ella Nze, who previously played D-I tennis for Duke. Myers is a York High and York College graduate.
Brave the heat: In all, 16 teams are lined up to compete this weekend. The first round and quarterfinals will be played Saturday, followed by the semifinals and finals on Sunday.
Action each day starts at 11 a.m., meaning the players will compete during the warmest part of the day during a weekend that is expected to be the hottest of the summer. Temperatures are expected to soar into the 90s.
Hopefully, those temperatures won’t scare away any spectators. This tournament’s cause is too important to allow a little hot weather to get in the way. Just be careful, dress appropriately, hydrate constantly and try to find some shade.
You’ll be rewarded with some quality tennis action and the opportunity to support a great cause.
Steve Heiser is sports editor of The York Dispatch. He can be reached at email@example.com.