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Long-running tennis tournament marks 40th anniversary as community fundraiser

By JOHN KOZIOL
Union Leader Correspondent

September 11. 2017 10:15AM
John Koziol/Union Leader Correspondent The sun shone brightly and the competition was fierce but collegial on Saturday during the 40th annual Linwood Ambulance Tennis Tournament, which was held this past weekend at The Village of Loon Mountain. The tournament is the longest-running fundraiser of its kind in New Hampshire. 
LINCOLN - The longest running fundraising tennis tournament in New Hampshire marked its 40th anniversary this weekend by again bringing in thousands of dollars for the Linwood Ambulance service.

Held annually at The Village of Loon Mountain, the Linwood Ambulance Tennis Tournament began in 1978 when its beneficiary was Littleton Regional Hospital.

A decade later and since then, the proceeds have been donated to Linwood Ambulance, which is based in North Woodstock and provides coverage to the towns of Woodstock and Lincoln and the unincorporated township of Ellsworth.

Since its inception, the tournament has cumulatively raised more than $500,000. Each year, the money from the entry fees is placed in a dedicated reserve fund for the purchase of new ambulances.

Linwood Ambulance operates three ambulances, said Chief Robert Wetherell, and the department tries to replace one of them every five years. Wetherell on Saturday said the tennis tournament, which raises between $9,000 and $12,000 is “extremely important” to his agency.

This past February, Linwood Ambulance tapped the reserve fund and bought a new ambulance for $170,000, which Wetherell explained is “just the shell” that then needs to be outfitted at an additional cost of about $80,000.

Linwood Ambulance responds to some 700 calls annually, said Wetherell, and it's vital that its ambulances are in good shape, which is why the tennis tournament is such a blessing.

Barbara Roma, who is the manager of the Village Swim, Tennis and Fitness Club, said the tournament has been popular from the beginning, attracting an average of 80 competitors and expanding from two to three days.

The Village of Loon Mountain is a good corporate citizen, said Wetherell, and its generosity as the host venue for the tennis tournament ultimately helps Linwood Ambulance do its job better.

Apart from Wetherell and one other person, who are employed, respectively, full and part-time, Linwood Ambulance is an all-volunteer department, the chief said, noting with pride that half of its members are certified as paramedics, “which is a very high number for a small town.”

Although it is not a sanctioned USTA event, the Linwood Ambulance Tennis Tournament attracts some of the best club players from New Hampshire and New England and the play is competitive.

Easton native Bode Miller, who is probably best known as a downhill skiing champion, has competed in the tennis tournament, winning the Men's Open title in 2006, the same year his dad, Woody, won the Men's 45+.

There are trophies for the victors, but mostly winning is about the “bragging rights,” said Roma, who is already making plans for the 2018 tournament.

Marcie Hornick, who has competed in the tournament for four years and was back in 2017 playing in the mixed doubles with Jay Duguay, said the tournament “brings a couple tennis communities together for this cause and it's just fun.”

“It's a nice group of people. The resort owners are very generous to let us do this,” Hornick said, “and the ambulance people are super nice and they cheer us on.”

jkoziol@newstote.com


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