GIRLS’ TENNIS HEAD COACH Craig Stone had a blast giving youngsters, from left, Andrew Barnes, Lucy Gagalowitz, Emma Kelley, Hannah Kelley, Tessa Jennings and Emily Barnes tennis lessons during Serving Lynnfield’s Pickleball Tournament on Oct. 22. (Dan Tomasello Photo)
By DAN TOMASELLO
LYNNFIELD — The community came together under clear blue skies and temperatures in the upper 60s to play pickleball and raise funds to replace Lynnfield High School’s tennis courts on Oct. 22.
Serving Lynnfield held the Pickleball Tournament at the Lynnfield Middle School tennis courts to raise funds to replace LHS’ dilapidated tennis courts. The high school’s tennis teams are unable to play matches at the LHS courts, which were last refinished in 1991, because they are cracked and damaged.
The tournament featured 30 teams playing along with 80 residents in attendance. The funds raised from the tournament have yet to be determined.
“It was a lot of fun,” said Serving Lynnfield member Joel McCarthy, who helped organize the tournament with his wife Kim and fellow Serving Lynnfield member Yousef Asaad. “The really cool part was seeing all of the different age groups playing. We had seniors playing as well as young kids. It was great to see the community come together to support the cause.”
“It was a great day,” said Kim. “All of our hard work paid off. It was a successful day and all of the teams had fun. Everybody had a great time.”
Asaad concurred with Joel and Kim’s sentiments.
“The turnout was amazing and everybody had a lot of fun,” said Asaad. “It was great to see everyone having a great time. The weather was amazing. Everything was fantastic.”
East Boston residents Cora Jacobsen and Joe Corcoran were crowned champions of the Pickleball Tournament, and received a pickleball paddle set that was donated by the McCarthy family. The couple learned about the tournament from Facebook.
“It was a really fun experience,” said Jacobsen. “We never played in a tournament before. It was great to play against a variety of people, some of whom were tennis players while others were pickleball players. It was just a great experience overall. I am glad they put this fundraiser together.”
While the tournament was taking place, Lynnfield High girls’ tennis head coach Craig Stone ran the Kids Fun Tennis Skills Challenge along with members of both varsity tennis teams at the LMS basketball court. The two-dozen children who participated in the challenge played a variety of fun games that taught the kids skills such as forehand drop shots, rallies and volleys.
“It was a lot of fun,” said Stone. “I really enjoyed working with the kids. I have given some of the kids lessons before, and some of them are picking up a racket for the first time.”
Serving Lynnfield member Sarah Kelley noted that her two daughters, Hannah and Emma, had a blast while learning from Stone and the LHS tennis players.
“It was a fabulous success,” said Kelley. “We are so appreciative of coach Stone and the members of the high school tennis teams for working with the kids.”
Stone was pleased that so many community members came together to play pickleball and support the LHS tennis courts’ fundraiser. He noted that Serving Lynnfield is looking to replace the four courts at the high school with five.
“This project will benefit everybody in the community, from elementary school students to seniors,” said Stone. “We want to have a facility that the entire community can use, not just the high school tennis teams. I am pleased with how well it has been received, and that so many people are getting involved.”
Select Board Chairman Phil Crawford, who is a member of Serving Lynnfield, called the Pickleball Tournament a “tremendous community event.”
“I am blown away by the number of participants who showed up and how good they are at pickleball,” said Crawford. “It was incredible. I want to thank Serving Lynnfield for putting this fundraiser together in a short period of time.”
Joel said the large number of people who participated and attended the Pickleball Tournament illustrates the need for new tennis courts at LHS. He said both high school tennis teams deserve to play at a top-notch facility.
“We have two top tennis teams at the high school that are winning the Cape Ann League year-after-year and are making the state tournament year-after-year,” said Joel. “It’s a little embarrassing that we don’t have the type of facility that the teams deserve. This is a longtime coming. Everyone is going to end up using the new courts. It’s not just for the high school kids. I think there is going to be a lot of people playing tennis at the high school once the new courts are built. It’s going to be great for the community.”
Joel thanked United States Pickleball Association Eastern Massachusetts District Ambassador Joe Lyman for helping with the tournament’s logistics, which included lining the LMS tennis courts with temporary tape.
“He helped with all of the striping and brought a couple of nets,” said Joel. “Joe was a big help.”
Joel also thanked Lynnfield Recreation Director Julie Mallett for bringing six nets to the tournament. He noted that he, Kim and Asaad donated six sets of pickleball paddles used for the tournament to Lynnfield Rec, which is gearing up to launch a pickleball lessons program for aspiring players.
Looking ahead, Kim said Serving Lynnfield is hosting a gala in honor of Stone on Friday, March 31, beginning at 7 p.m. at Spinelli’s Function Facility.
“It’s a tribute to Mr. Stone and his 50 years of service to Lynnfield Public Schools,” said Kim. “We want to thank him for everything he has done for the community, whether it was teaching physical education, coaching tennis and coaching wrestling. We are hoping to have a lot of alumni come. We are hoping everyone comes to the gala to support him and support the fundraiser. We are going to have a lot of silent auction items. It’s going to be a great night.”
Kelley said Serving Lynnfield will begin selling tickets for the gala in January.
“If anyone is interested in donating to our efforts in the meantime, they can visit https://donorbox.org/serving-lynnfield and ‘like’ our page on Facebook to stay up to date on our efforts and upcoming events,” said Kelley.