TENNIS: New name for Alton Closed, new prep contact hour approach

TENNIS: New name for Alton Closed, new prep contact hour approach

There’s a new name for a familiar summer tennis tournament, as well as a new approach to summer prep player contact hours.

The coronavirus pandemic forced high school coaches to look for new ways to get things accomplished. And while the pandemic’s hold is lessening, the lessons learned are still being applied.

Area prep tennis programs are planning to use the summer contact hours in a somewhat different way. Some will be doing it together. the contact days allowed each summer between

“We get 20 contact days, but you can do whatever you want with them,” Alton coach Jesse Macias said. “I’ve talked to other coaches the last few summers about getting together and they are willing.

But it was difficult to find the dates.”

Macias said the most important aspect of summer tennis for his Alton High boys and girls teams is participation. And besides prep-only activities, the traditional summer tournaments will take place, just with a new name.

We’re holding our (Riverbend) tournament July 20-21 and Roxana is holding a tourney similar to ours July 16-18.

The Riverbend Tournament will take the place of the former Alton Closed and Alton Open tournaments.

Last summer, the Alton Closed Tennis Tournament was delayed, but eventually took place in July.

The tournament, which had been postponed because of the COVID-19 pandemic, eventually went off without so much as a hiccup at the Alton High School tennis courts. Entries totalled near 50 last year, Macias said.

The tournament, which originally was for Alton residents only when it began several year ago, has expanded to included the Riverbend and featured players from Alton, Godfrey, Roxana Bethalto and Jerseyville among others.

Players and spectators were asked to recognize established protocol in light of the pandemic, including social distancing.

The Bud Simpson Open Tournament was postponed. The 2021 Bud Open took place two weeks ago.

Macias coined the new name for the Alton Tournament.

“It’s now called the Riverbend Tournament because we get a lot of outside players,” he said. “Our girls and boys are hitting on random days and playing tournaments and camps.

“Other than that, the main thing is trying to get kids on the courts.”

Switching to his high-school coach’s hat, Macias said the first summer contact with other schools has been scheduled, with more possibly coming.

“We’re playing Jerseyville boys and girls Monday at 6 at Alton High,” he said. “We are supposed to get together with CM later, too.”

Macias said area coaches are on board with the idea.

“We’re going to set dates and get as many kids there as we can, Macias said. “The kids hit most of the week and play some tournaments.

The matches between schools are currently scheduled to be played Mondays and Tuesdays. Most schools will have boys and girls players at each, although some may be only boys, depending on availability.

“Matches are free and something to look forward to. All the coaches want more of these.”

A recent addition at Principia College has turned tennis heads and will play a role in some of the summer tennis.

Prin’s Shannon Carney spearheaded the installation of grass courts at the Elsah college.

“Principia is offering play on grass courts this summer,” Macas said, “which is really cool.

“We’re going to try to get a group of players there to to hit together.“

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