On Saturday, September 7th, the first annual charity tennis event with Buddy Up Tennis took place at Oswego East. In an event held to raise money for the Buddy Up Tennis program, there was a camp followed by an amateur tournament. By the end of the day, they raised almost $1,700 dollars for the organization.
Buddy Up Tennis is a high energy adaptive tennis program started for individuals with Down Syndrome. The event was held in part with event coordinator Katie Finke of the Naperville location who was in attendance to witness the successful turnout. She also helped lead the first part of the day which was spent with everyone working with the kids at Buddy Up on various activities. Over an hour was spent doing drills, different exercises, and overall just things to help kids be active and improve at playing tennis.
“I’m kind of speechless, because the buddies are the nucleus of our program, and for all of the kids to come out on a Saturday morning and to get involved with the program, is just really humbling for me to see,” Finke said.
A big leader of the event was senior Abhishek Malhotra. Malhotra is a tennis player himself so that helped tie something he loves into Saturday’s event. He is also the president of the school’s National Honors Society, an organization largely impacted by volunteering and giving back, so this was something he encouraged fellow members to get involved in.
“Especially the first hour where everyone was working with the kids, I was really happy with how that went. It looked like everyone was engaged and having a good time, so I’m really satisfied with how today went,” Malhotra said.
One of the East students who worked with the kids was senior Olivia Schramer. Schramer worked with a young girl named Zoe. Being in a new environment like East, Zoe really wanted to just run around the entire time and just enjoy being active.
“It was so fun to be able to make Zoe smile while getting physical activity in. Buddy up Tennis was one of the things that makes you feel thankful for everything you have but yet feel full of joy because you are making those kids day by playing tennis with them,” Schramer said.
Once the first part of the day wrapped up, an amateur and singles tournament took place. Everyone who made a donation was able to play in the tournament, with the winners of each receiving gift cards.
“I loved seeing the competitive nature of everyone out there. Even though they don’t all play tennis, they have the drive to win,” Malhotra said. “So even though they didn’t really know everything about the sport, they still were competitive to really win.”
Senior Ashwin Ramesh, also a tennis player, has been apart of the Buddy Up program since 2016, and working with this program really gave him a new perspective on helping out kids. This is why he thought, along with Malhotra, that it would be a really good idea to host an event to give back to them and kick off their season. For them, once they decided on the organization it really just came down to planning and advertising.
“It makes me really proud because it makes me feel like we give them the chance to be good at something and they’re proud of it too,” Ramesh said. “I feel like it’s a good idea to help people out, and it makes me feel good that we’re making their lives better.”
Despite not having any previous tennis experience East senior Donovan Place made it to the final round of the tournament. For him, the day was a success and something he really appreciated.
“It’s a great experience, it really is. I love the kids, they’re so nice, and they came to play today, and I love to see it. I hope we can do this again multiple times,” Place said.
Place’s tennis partner and East senior Riley Stapp, who also had no previous experience, had similar feelings at the conclusion of the day. It was an overall positive feeling for him on everything that had taken place throughout the event.
“It was a great experience today. It made me feel really good to see all of the smiles on their faces. Just helping them play tennis and getting them active felt really great, and we’re doing this for a great charity,” Stapp said.
With Ramesh and Malhotra both graduating after this year it will be a little bit different next time, although they are both hoping to make this an annual thing. They both really want to show their support and want to have this again in the future.
“When a school like Oswego East puts on an event like this for our location, it just does so much for our program and organization,” Finke said. “It would be amazing to do this again.”
Ben Schmidt is the Sports Editor for Oswego East High School’s online news magazine the Howl