What marks the end of summer? Why, a tennis tournament, of course.

What marks the end of summer? Why, a tennis tournament, of course.
The Independence Tennis Association/Independence Parks and Recreation End of Summer Tennis Tournament will be Aug. 7-9 at Santa Fe Trail Park in Independence. The deadline to enter is Aug. 4, and matches will be drawn on Aug. 6. Tennis balls will be provided.
Jody McClain, director of the tournament, is excited to kick off the annual tournament, or at least as annual as it can be.
“We’ve been doing this since about 1987, but there were a few years where we didn’t have an ITA president, so we couldn’t do a tournament,” she said. “But we’ve been going strong for about five years now.”
McClain said the attendance has taken off since then.
“We’ve had increasing attendance every year,” she said. “Last year, I think we had about 86 or 87 entries.”
And for good reason. The tournament offers nearly 20 different divisions and McClain said the cost is low – very low compared to other Kansas City tournaments.
“We haven’t raised our price in five years,” McClain said of the $12 singles and $22 doubles entry fees.
Available divisions include the adult (ages 19 and older) men’s and women’s singles and doubles and mixed doubles, senior (55 and older) men’s and women’s singles and doubles, and junior boys’ and girls’ singles and doubles in the 12-and-under, 14-and-under, 16-and-under and 18-and-under divisions. Players are limited to two events.
McClain said that she’s seeing more families come out and play.
“Recently we’ve seen a father play in the men’s singles and then play doubles with his daughter, and then two sisters play in the women’s doubles,” she said. “It’s really a good family-type event.”
McClain added that they could even work around a tight schedule.
“I had the senior men’s singles champion call me and he said, ‘I want to defend my title! But I have to work. Can you work around my schedule?’ We just said, ‘Of course.’ We’ll try to get everyone out here that we can,” McClain said.
McClain, who also serves as the Blue Springs High School boys tennis coach, said the tournament is a good excuse for high school girls to get some tennis time in before the season starts.
“The tournament is right before the girls tennis season begins, and hopefully they’ve already started their training, but it’s a good thing to get out and practice before they start playing,” McClain said.
McClain is hoping for a good tournament, but she is, however, aware a tournament’s worst enemy – rain, which hampered last year’s event.
“We had to go indoors to Metro East (Tennis Center in Blue Springs) last year,” she explained. “They were kind enough to let us play there.”
Although there are some scattered showers forecasted for Saturday, the tournament should be dry for the beginning and ending matches. McClain said the men’s singles, usually the largest division, will start Friday afternoon around 5 p.m. All championship matches will take place on Sunday morning.
“[Santa Fe Park] has 12 courts to play on, so we should be able to get through all the matches smoothly,” McClain said. “We should have a lot of people there, but we have to have at least three different entries in a division to do it.”
Above all, though, McClain knows the tournament is good for the city of Independence.
“We get a lot of people from the surrounding communities. We have people from Higginsville, Smithville, and Odessa,” McClain said. “It’s a really neat thing. People who are in it will tell their friends and it will just get bigger. It’s good for the community.”
The tournament is good, but ITA is hoping to do even more.
“We’ve been talking about T-shirts for the first 50 entries, or maybe doing flex leagues, where people call each other up and play tennis with each other, like people that may not see each other a lot but just come out and play for a little,” McClain said. “We keep talking about things, but we just need to get them going. We’re all avid tennis fans.”
To register, e-mail McClain at jmcclain39@hotmail.com or call her at 816-616-3712.