Tennis fans know that the Grand Slam of Tennis — the Australian, French and US Opens, plus Wimbledon — are played on 4 different types of courts.
But you don’t have to fly to 3 continents to see them.
In fact, you don’t even have to leave Westport to play on 4 surfaces.
The town’s first Grand Slam Open is near. Singles, doubles and mixed doubles competition on private red clay, grass, hard and soft courts is set for August 16 to 18.
Each stop has a different theme, with Australian, French, English and American food and drinks. There are trophies and t-shirts at each court too.
The event also includes a ping pong tournament and pool party. Music is provided by the Dave Kardas Band — whose leader heads up the Longshore tennis program.
The Grand Slam Open is a fundraiser for Joseph Oyebog’s tennis academy in Cameroon.
The former Davis Cup tennis player/Cameroon national champion/beloved local tennis coach has impacted thousands of youngsters in his home country. Twenty players have earned college scholarships, or obtained coaching positions in the US and Europe. Many more have gained confidence, hope and opportunity.
Ben Sturner — who played tennis at Boston University, and runs the Leverage Agency sports marketing firm — met Joseph when he taught Ben’s children.
When Ben learned how far a little money can go in Africa, he created the Grand Slam concept. Also helping: Clair Mason (Intensity owner and Oyebog Tennis Academy board member), longtime player June Eichbaum, and Ben Stein and Evan Felcher, members of Staples High School’s state champion 2018 tennis team.
Ben and Evan are still teenagers. But Westport’s Grand Slam Open involves a centenarian too.
Lee Greenberg is 101 years old. A sign on her Saugatuck Shores home says, “Tennis bum lives here.” Sure enough, she has a grass turf court.
Ben Sturner and Joseph knocked on her door, to ask if they could use it. She invited them in. For an hour, Lee told stories about her life in tennis, and her passion for it. She’s been playing since she was 10 years old — more than 9 decades ago.
Lee was born in Hell’s Kitchen, New York, and moved to Westport 75 years ago. Each of her 4 homes here had a tennis court. She organized many games, with a variety of people.
Lee is also an avid sculptor. She organized the tennis art show at the opening of the Tennis Hall of Fame in Newport, Rhode Island — in 1954.
And, Lee said, years ago, Joseph taught Lee’s son Michael.
Lee was happy to offer her court. The other 3 are in the Compo Beach neighborhood.
Players of all ages and abilities are eligible to sign up. If you prefer not to enter, no problem. Joseph will hold a clinic for non-competitors.
When it comes to helping kids, I can’t think of a better service than this.
(The suggested donation is $150 per entry. For more information, call 475-999-1335, or email BenjaminStein2000@gmail.com or firstname.lastname@example.org.)