01/23/05 — MOC tennis teams to aid tsunami victims

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MOC tennis teams to aid tsunami victims

By News-Argus Staff
Published in Sports on January 23, 2005 2:01 AM

MOUNT OLIVE - The Mount Olive College men's and women's tennis teams will conduct a series of tennis clinics on Saturday, Jan. 29, at the John Neal Walker Tennis Center on the campus of Mount Olive College.

Proceeds from the clinics will go towards relief aid for victims of last month's tsunami in Asia. A fee is not being charged for the clinics, but donations will be accepted from participants and spectators. The clinics will be conducted by coaches and players from the Mount Olive tennis teams.

An adult clinic for all levels of play will kick off the schedule at 9 a.m., followed at 11 by a children's clinic for ages 3-7. At 11:45, members of the Mount Olive tennis teams will participate in exhibition matches. At 1:30 p.m., a clinic for area high school players will be held.

The effects of the tsunami have taken on a personal meaning for the Mount Olive tennis teams, as well as the Mount Olive College community as a whole. Samanthi Wijesekera, a senior and a member of the Trojan women's tennis team, lives in Sri Lanka and was at home during Christmas break when the tsunami hit. Wijesekera lives on the opposite coast of where the tsunami made landfall, so she and her family were not directly in harm's way.

Head men's and women's tennis coach Burt Lewis says he wanted to contribute to the relief effort, and having a team member from Sri Lanka personalized the impact of the tsunami.

"My wife and I wanted to do something ever since reading about the relief efforts," said Lewis. "We felt that through the tennis teams, we could raise more money collectively than we would be able to give ourselves. And having a player from Sri Lanka made it a very real event.

"It affects myself and the team on a very personal level."

The clinic is the first of a series of Mount Olive athletics events designated to raise funds for tsunami relief aid. The gate for the Trojans' men's and women's basketball games against Barton on February 3 will go towards tsunami relief.

"The tennis clinic was an idea to get as many people involved as possible to raise money for relief aid," said Lewis. "We're hoping people can come to the clinic and donate, even if they're unable to participate in the clinic."

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