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Willmar notebook: Tennis sets course to make a racket

Here's the idea -- build tennis for young and old in the Lakes area.

Get kids and adults off the couch and swinging.

The Willmar Lakes Area Tennis Association formed this year to promote, support and grow tennis in the city and the surrounding area.

New London-Spicer tennis coach Chad Schmeising and the Cardinals' boys varsity coach Jim Anderson are on the eight person board of directors. Jim Andresen is president.

Anderson told me that funds are needed to repair the courts at both the senior high and the junior high. Cracks at the senior high are so pronounced that top players at the two summer tournaments request courts with the least surface damage.

The United State Tennis Association has grant money available for facilities improvement.

The tennis group aim is to get racquets in the hands of more children and entice teens and adults to take lessons, attend day camps and compete in an area league. In all aspects, Lakes Tennis is working closely with WCER director Steve Brisendine and his staff.

Here's a closer look at some of the WLATA ambitions; all are detailed at

- The USGA will introduce their Quick Start Tennis program to WCER supervisors, physical education teachers, coaches and anyone interested at a local clinic on May 12. Willmar native Hayley Horning will be the lead instructor. Quick Start uses a compressed court, small racquets and foam balls.

- Summer instruction is planned for K-2 and 3-6 as well as a Cardinal tennis camp for middle school and high school. A boys and girls summer league is planned for 7-12 with at least one area match a week.

- Anderson, in his first year as varsity coach, is pleased to see middle school tennis activated again. Bill Gabbert of New London is coaching. When the initial sign-up was low, Anderson got permission to speak to both the P.E. classes and the lunch crowd about joining tennis. That resulted in five more boys joining. He's looking for a larger turnout in the future to fuel the high-school program.

- Tennis lesson sign-up for all ages will be offered. Current and ex-college players would be among the instructors.

n Lakes Tennis will promote and assist in these summer tournaments: Cardinal Classic June 22-24; New London Waterdays July 20-22; and Play It Again Sports Aug. 3-5.

A recycling home run at Baker Field

The Willmar Stingers will hit for the re-cycle this summer. Fans will be encouraged to dispose of beer and pop cans, plastic beer and pop bottles in designated receptacles. Cardboard is also being recycled, according to Stingers' co-owner Ryan Voz.

It's especially appropriate that the third-year collegiate teams would emphasize reuse with the county recycling center just across the street from Bill Taunton Stadium at Baker Field.

Schneider to play in Select 17 hockey

Junior Hunter Schneider, the Cardinals top scorer this winter, will play for the 6A-6AA at the Reebok Minnesota Hockey High Performance Boys 17 Spring Festival, which is Friday through Sunday at the Plymouth Arenas. Hunter's teammates include three players from the state champion Benilde team and seven off Lee Smith's Eden Prairie Eagles.

MGA puts Lakeland tourney back on map

The Lakeland Tournament has been added to the MGA Men's Amateur points championship. It's now one of 6 stroke-play events plus 7 match-play. The list includes the prestigious Resorters at Alexandria, the Pine to Palm at Detroit Lakes and the Birchmont at Bemidji.

The Lakeland, a local fixture since the early 1930s, once attracted the state's top amateurs. With the proliferation of events, the Lakeland lagged and has become little more than an area tournament with a sprinkling of college golfers from farther out.

Andy Jacobson, the reigning Lakeland champ and among the state's best players, lobbied the MGA to add the Lakeland. He's sure the inclusion in the state calendar will help entice players from the metro and beyond.

Boxers showed skill, effort, heart

Willmar Golden Gloves coaches Kirk Davis and Nate Rinke feel the club, based at the city auditorium, had one of its best seasons.

"We're proud of all our fighters," stated Davis, a figure in local boxing since the late 1970s. "They work hard and listen in the corner. They gave it all they had in each of their bouts. Nate and I are looking forward to working with each of them next season."

The five-month season concluded March 31 at Region IV Golden Gloves at Wadena. Alex Duran, Eloy Zavala, Santo Reyes and Joel Sanchez each got matches. Sanchez, 25, got his first win in three bouts.

Optimist track today

The Willmar Cardinals track and field team hosts its annual Optimist Meet at Hodapp Field today.

Seven teams are listed as guests, including New London-Spicer, Willmar Community Christian and Central Minnesota Christian.

This is the only varsity home event listed on track's spring schedule.

Rand Middleton
Tribune photographer/videographer. Began working in radio and at weekly newspaper in Munising, Michigan, in 1972. Started parttime at West Central Daily Tribune Sept. 1974. Fulltime news/sports beginning Feb. 1979. Married to Tribune news clerk Donna (Miller) Middleton, formerly of Kerkhoven. 2 grown children. 
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