While the Wimbledon takes place an ocean away in England, New York City has its own Wimbledon tournament that takes place only a river away. On June 21, the Roosevelt Island Racquet Club hosted a fundraising event called Wimbledon on the Water. The friendly doubles tournament was put together by Housing Works, a community-based AIDS service organization. Housing Works provides life-saving services, such as housing, medical and mental healthcare, meals, job training, drug treatment and HIV prevention education to more than 20,000 homeless and low-income New Yorkers living with HIV and AIDS.
The tournament had 14 participants who had to raise a minimum of $150 each to participate. No details were spared as the Housing Works staff provided players with a Wimbledon spread of scones, strawberries with whipped cream, cupcakes designed like tennis balls and champagne. Participants were also encouraged to dress in the flashiest all-white ensembles that they could assemble. Match play was one game with no ad scoring. It was a round-robin format, where every individual would eventually partner with everyone in the tournament. It was scored individually and the person at the end of the matches who had the highest total would be declared the winner.
After the matches were finished, awards were handed out, along with several raffle prizes which included equipment, clothing and U.S. Open tickets! The champions of the event were Claire Rush and Charles Ueng who played solid tennis to win the friendly event. Besides crowning the champions of the event, other awards were given out for the Monica Seles Loudest Player Award, the Andre Agassi Comeback Award, Best Interpretation of a Wimbledon Champion, and Best Interpretive White Dress. The best interpretive white dress went to Esnavi Live, whose all-white ensemble was capped off with high heels, with the soles in the shape of a tennis ball.
“We use our events to connect with the community,” said Nick McCarvel, head volunteer for Housing Works. “We partner with a lot of health-related programs so that our donators have the ability to challenge their bodies, while also helping others.”
When asked does playing for a cause feel more fulfilling, Erin Shigaki replied, “Yes, it definitely does because not only are we enjoying some tennis but also we know that we are all helping out with the Housing Works campaign, which makes everyone feel better about themselves. I think that there should be more events like this one because they would raise awareness for different causes and over the years, the numbers attending would grow.”
Credit all photos to Monica Gorny