Tennis tournament sees great turnout, benefits teachers


By Lance Catchings

The Liberty Hill High School tennis courts were buzzing with activity July 23 as over 100 parents, students and tennis players from across central Texas came out to support a great cause.

Panther mom Sherry Rhoden hosted a Back to School Doubles Tournament that garnered a great turnout.

“Several of the Panther high school tennis players had told me they wanted some doubles tennis tournaments this summer,” Rhoden said. “They had been traveling a lot of places to play in tournaments, so I thought let’s just do one at Liberty Hill High School. I saw on Facebook the teachers in Liberty Hill ISD had a wish list and people were collecting items. Instead of doing an entry fee I thought let’s just have the teachers benefit from it. I felt it was a good way to give back to the high school for letting me use the courts and that is how it all came about.”

Rhoden said LHISD coaches were in full support of her hosting it at LHHS.

“The Liberty Hill athletic director Jeff Walker has been really supportive in wanting to help build the tennis community and program here in Liberty Hill,” she said.

“Head varsity tennis Coach Philip Dodd is currently teaching tennis in New York, but encouraged me to use the courts and keep everyone moving while he was gone. I’ve been really blessed by that to meet a lot of new people in the area and I have been able to teach kids this summer from age four all the way up to the high school level.”

Rhoden admits she was initially not sure how many would turn out on a Tuesday evening for the tournament, but was blown away by the amount of support.

“I was expecting maybe 6-12 doubles teams and we ended up with 72 people, which translates to 36 doubles teams, that entered,” she laughed. “It took roughly about two weeks for us to put the event together. I normally held a class on Tuesday nights and a lot of the high school players were attending that class. I had July 23rd as a make up day due to rainouts, so I just decided to do it Tuesday night. We spent two weeks pushing it on social media to get the word out and it just skyrocketed from that point.”

The event gathered many donations and raised a fair amount of money that will be used to purchase supplies for the teachers.

“By the end of the tournament we had the bed of my husband’s truck full of donations and we also raised $1,005 in cash donations,” she said. “My husband and I will go to Sam’s and buy more items from the wish list that are some of the harder items for the teachers to get. I know sometimes things like batteries and other items are harder for them to get their hands on later in the school year. Dr. James Fay from Republic Spine and Pain also sponsored the tournament by providing pizza and drinks to all of the players and volunteers, so it was a really a great night!”

With such a strong turnout for the first event that she has hosted in Liberty Hill, Rhoden said it was a blessing to have the support of the tennis community.

“It was really neat to see so many come out and support the event,” she said.

“My personal goal in the summer was for the high school students to see a community of tennis players around them. I felt that sometimes tennis players can feel a little left out. Tennis is not usually a big event like the Friday Night Lights and I wanted them to know there are other people out there that play tennis of all ages and skill levels. That was kind of my goal when I opened the class on Tuesdays to adults and attract high school players that want to play. This way everyone can learn the game in a fun laid back environment. It was neat to see, and it was cool how God provides. The Capital Area Tennis Association came out. We had people from USTA (United State Tennis Association) that also came out. We had many of my peers as well as players from the communities from Cimarron Hills to Georgetown Tennis Center. We had players come from as far as San Antonio and Wimberley come play. Liberty Hill, Georgetown and Pflugerville also had high school players participate.”

Rhoden also runs Ms. Sherry’s Tennis program, which she started in 2004. She provides classes, private and semi-private tennis lessons for ages four and up in two locations. One in Liberty Hill and the other located in Cedar Park.