It mattered not who won and who lost the various tennis matches on the USD and middle school courts Saturday and Sunday. What was important was that tennis players � winners and losers alike � were playing for the same cause.
Responding to a Vermillion School Board budget-driven decision to eliminate the boys' and girls' tennis program, the S.O.S. (Save Our Sport) organization of tennis athletes, parents and friends came into existence. The weekend's tournament was the first major fund-raising effort of S.O.S., and it was successful beyond imagination.
Nearly $3,000 was raised from entry fees and donations as tennis enthusiasts from the community and the area responded to the call for help.
The school board had granted the S.O.S. group until Aug. 1 to raise the $8,500 necessary to keep boys' and girls' tennis alive in the Vermillion school system. A $2,000 donation from the Vermillion Booster Club was a giant jumpstart to the effort, and the fact that because of the weekend tournament $3,000 of the remaining $6,500 has been placed in the bank is a giant shot in the arm for reinstating tennis at VHS.
"The tournament was a huge success," said Dan Hanson, coach of the VHS tennis teams. "There was a lot of great tennis played this weekend, and we had a great turnout. We even had great weather up until the very last match."
Tennis players from Vermillion were joined by a large group from Brandon Valley and others from Sioux City, Sioux Falls, Yankton, Mitchell, Milbank and Luverne. There were 68 singles players alone who took advantage of a beautiful Saturday.
Hanson said the S.O.S. group continues to welcome private donations to close the gap toward the final goal of $8,500. Tax-deductible checks can be sent to: Vermillion Public Schools Foundation Inc. (Attn: VHS Tennis Program), P.O. Box 569, Vermillion, SD 57069.
Results of the S.O.S. Tournament:
Girls U14: Sarah Rockne def. Hannah Mutschelknaus, 10-5.
Girls U18: Kara Bunkers def. Erin Buse, 10-3.
Boys U14: Luke Rockne def. Ethan Albers, 10-0.
Boys U18: Joey Vajgrt def. Michael Bader, 10-5.
Women's 3.5: Mollie Mize def. Kayla Munger, 10-6.
Women's open: Valerie Robinson def. Leah Branaugh, 11-9.
Men's 4.0: Dylan Kurtz def. Brian Everson, 10-3.
Men's open: Jason Holoch def. Luke Rockne, 10-5.
Men's 8.0: Jeff and Dylan Kurtz def. James and Stanley May, 10-4.
Men's open: Dylan and Matt Kurtz def. Jason and John Holoch, 10-6.
Mixed doubles: Jason Holoch and Whitney Pahl were leading Luke and Sarah Rockne, 2-0, when the match had to be stopped due to lightning.