There’s a place in El Dorado Hills where everybody knows your name. For 20 years a large group of novice and professional tennis players have gathered for friendly competition and camaraderie on the court. On Nov. 1 they held their first formal tournament for one of their own.
Sim Antopina has been a member of the group for two years. A native of the Philippines, Antopina’s mind has been on his former home since a 7.2 magnitude earthquake devastated a region not far from where his mother and brothers still live on Oct. 15.
“There have been 20,000 aftershocks and counting,” Antopina said. “I don’t even know what’s needed to help.”
Antopina will travel back to the Philippines on Nov. 14, staying for one month to do whatever he can. He reached out to his tennis buddies and they planned a fundraising tournament within two weeks.
The casual group recently nicknamed themselves RAW Raqueteers. “RAW stands for relationships, accommodating, accepting or available and welcoming, open to all,” said player Michael Wright. “This is a fun, social, active group, based on friendly competition and getting some exercise regularly.”
Forty players ranging in age from 50-89 played in the doubles tournament at Stephen Harris Park Saturday, raising just more than $700 for Antopina to take back to the Philippines. The El Dorado Hills Community Services District’s tennis pro Andrew Fearnside is simply a RAW buddy to his teammates. Asked if he gives them coaching tips, Fearnside said, “Nah.” He and partner Tom Lee took home the tournament’s top prize, a trophy and bragging rights. They were also presented with a silly gag racket lest their heads get too big.
A potluck lunch and barbecue gave the tournament a special feel several players said. Spouses and friends lined the courts to cheer or playfully jeer, depending on the match.
During the trophy presentation, one member thanked the entire group for making him feel as welcome in the two weeks he’s been playing as any of the guys who’ve been playing two decades. All are welcome at RAW, including women players.
RAW Raqueteers play every Monday, Wednesday and Friday mornings at the Stephen Harris tennis courts off Tam O’Shanter Way. E-mail [email protected] if interested in making a donation to the earthquake fund.