Boost for tennis with GO Fest event 

Tournament to offer 11 different divisions

click to enlarge FILE PHOTO BY DAN FALLOON - tennis, anyone? Whistler Racquet Club manager and director of tennis Kirk Paterson (left), shown in this file photo with Ben Belanger, is excited to offer a large tournament as part of this month's GO Fest.
  • File photo by Dan Falloon
  • tennis, anyone? Whistler Racquet Club manager and director of tennis Kirk Paterson (left), shown in this file photo with Ben Belanger, is excited to offer a large tournament as part of this month's GO Fest.

There stands to be something for nearly every tennis player at the upcoming Great Outdoors Festival.

With 11 different events planned as part of the GO Fest Tennis Championships, players can find the level that best suits their skills for a competitive weekend. The tournament will run from May 15 to 18 at the Whistler Racquet Club and Fairmont Whistler courts.

Whistler Racquet Club manager and director of tennis Kirk Paterson took in the inaugural GO Fest last year, and saw an opportunity to give tennis a further boost in the resort.

"It gives us a chance to make all the people aware that tennis is happening and (to) highlight some of our programs," he said. "It's a good sample of everything that's going on in the club with all the programs we're running throughout the weekend."

Though this isn't the only tournament the club is hosting this year, GO Fest does provide a rare opportunity for it to go all out and host an event for just about everyone. The 11 different events include singles and doubles options for men, women and mixed teams. There are divisions for those over 50 as well.

The men's and women's open event has a combined prize pool of $1,000 that will be awarded proportionally based on registration in the two brackets.

"Purposely, we run a lot of smaller events, just because they're easier to manage," Paterson said. "But on a long weekend, it's easier to handle a bigger tournament."

Paterson hopes to see a draw of 32 players in the men's open event and a total of about 100 entries. On May 5, he said there were already about a dozen people registered for the open event, though the bulk of sign-ups tend to come in the week leading up to the tournament.

The tournament, in part, is a rebirth of the seniors' tournament the racquet club regularly hosted.

"We started it again, but on a smaller scale, and our goal was always to bring it back to where it was," he said.

Paterson explained the club realized more younger people are playing the sport, so a wide gamut of options is needed.

"It brings the whole spectrum of people in one tournament," he said. "If you think of something like the mountain bike races or the enduro races, they have professional events, but in the same race, you have the amateur event and the men's 40 (and over) event, for example.

"We thought it would fit well with the festival, and with Whistler, and with the type of people that are coming here."

There will also be two workshops offered to those interested in getting a better handle on the game — a doubles workshop on Saturday, May 16 and an intro to tennis workshop on Sunday, May 17. Both will be run from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. and cost $25 each.

A kids' zone with mini nets set up for youngsters to get their first tastes of the game. Instruction from coaches will also be available. The nets will be set up in Whistler Olympic Plaza from noon to 5 p.m. on May 16 and at the Fairmont Whistler courts the next day from 9 to 11:30 a.m.

"People can drop in for free to play and get tips," Paterson said. "Our model for developing tennis is try, learn, compete, and our goal was to have all these opportunities."

Those looking to register or find more information can visit www.whistlertennis.com.

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