While tennis fans around the world spent the weekend following the action at Wimbledon, local tennis players had their eyes on something different, the T. Beckley Junior Tennis Open. One of the Great River Tennis Association’s (GRTA’s) longest running events, this tournament allows young players from Iowa and beyond to experience Muscatine’s thriving tennis scene.
A long running Level Five Missouri Valley Tennis Tournament, the T. Beckley Junior Tennis Open gives players from Muscatine, the Quad Cities, Clinton, Iowa City, Cedar Rapids, Dubuque, and even other states a chance to compete in a fun and challenging two-day competition.
According to Cindy Klebe, one of the tournament’s main organizers, the event takes its name from Tom Beckley, one of the GRTA’s biggest perennial supporters. “He did a lot for the tennis community,” she shared. “He donated a lot to the GRTA to keep kids and adults playing.” After Beckley made a sizable posthumous donation to the group in 2018 to help the tournament and other programs continue to operate, they felt it only made sense to name the event after him to memorialize him.
This year, fifty-six total players between the ages of twelve and eighteen competed in both singles and doubles matches at the Weed Park tennis courts. A record high for attendance, Klebe believes the tournament will continue to grow well into the future. “I anticipate more [players] next year. We’ll probably turn it into a three-day tournament,” she shared.
Always an exciting event, action at the T. Beckley Junior Tennis Open rivaled that of Djokovic and Federer in England, at least on a small scale. Most notably, in the first round of singles play on Saturday, July 13th, the fourteen-year-old girls tournament lasted for two hours and fifteen minutes, likely setting a tournament record.
Along with providing a great opportunity for young players to test their skills against new opponents, Klebe reports that the popularity of the T. Beckley Junior Tennis Open has grown in part because of how well the GRTA’s volunteers take care of visiting players. Klebe said, “I have a lot of parents say they tell other people about it because it’s a unique tournament. From providing lunch, refreshments, and ice cold Freeze pops to players, to having volunteers always on hand to take care of players’ needs, the GRTA helps make the T. Beckley Junior Tennis Open one of the regions preferred competitions year in and year out.
Klebe feels that the enjoyment all of the young players get from competing in the T. Beckley Junior Tennis Open makes all the hard work that goes into it worthwhile. She mused that she most enjoys, “just giving the kids a chance to play and compete. It’s always fun to watch the kids play, compete, and enjoy themselves.” As word of this tournament continues to spread, the GRTA looks forward to keeping the T. Beckley Junior Tennis Open one of the regions premier youth tennis events.