Beaufort News

Banana Open Junior tennis tournament returns, ready to raise more funds

After a five-year run, the Banana Open Junior Challenge tennis tournament appeared done.

The event needed a sponsor and had found none. An event that has raised more than $100,000 for the Charles P. Darby Children's Research Institute at MUSC Children's Hospital was on hold.

But Judy Trew, who manages The Heather Trew Foundation, provided the necessary $5,000. The sixth annual event, open to boys and girls age 18 and under, begins Friday at Palmetto Dunes Tennis Center and runs through Sunday. Proceeds will benefit kidney research and help raise awareness for the need of kidney donation.

Heather Trew, Judy's daughter, died in 2007 at age 19 after a long bout with various health problems related to complications from e. Coli bacteria she contracted as a child from an undercooked hamburger. Heather Trew received a kidney transplant from an aunt to help extend her life. Her foundation helps fund research and promotes organ donation.

Tournament co-chairman Kelly Ruhlin helped start the tournament after learning there was no funding at MUSC for kidney research. Ruhlin's son, Zach, now a 15-year-old student at Hilton Head Island High School, was diagnosed with Dent's Disease, a rare kidney disorder. His treatment is due in part to money raised from the Banana Open Junior Challenge.

The tennis tournament is a non-sanctioned event, meaning less pressure on the competitors. There are both novice and tournament levels.

Among the draws is an adult/child round-robin tournament Friday night, a banana split bar and a party hosted by Jim 'N Nick's barbecue.

"It's nice, because they can enjoy themselves," Kelly Ruhlin said.

Tournament director Jackie Reynecke said the tournament provides a good opportunity for younger players with no competitive experience to get their start. Unlike the Level 2 Bullfrog USTA Southern Section Designated tournament held on Hilton Head Island this past week, this event should be much more relaxed.

"We want it to be a fun, family-oriented event," Reynecke said.

6TH ANNUAL BANANA OPEN JUNIOR CHALLENGE

What: Singles tennis tournament for boys and girls 18-and-under; Novice and tournament levels

When: Friday through Sunday

Where: Palmetto Dunes Tennis Center

Registration: The deadline for the main event has passed, but tournament director Jackie Reynecke said she would try to work in additional participants today. Call 843-785-1152 to inquire. Registration for the adult/child round robin stays open until the event starts Friday.

Information: All money raised benefits the Charles P. Darby Children's Research Institute at MUSC Children's Research Hospital.

HILTON HEAD ISLAND OPEN POSTPONED

The Hilton Head Island Open tennis tournament, originally scheduled to start today, has been postponded until the fall due to a lack of entrants, tournament director Jim Stubbs said.

The event will be held Sept. 7-9 and will feature men's and women's singles, doubles and mixed doubles. Cost is $45 per person, per event or $55 for two events. The tournament is for levels 2.5 to Open.

For information, call Stubbs at 843-785-8388, ext. 1, or email jim@vdmtennis.com.

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