The boys’ varsity tennis team took to the Schreiber courts on May 24 to raise funds for Port Washington’s local chapter of Autism Speaks.
The inaugural event teamed up students with faculty members as they played friendly doubles matches for onlookers.
Coach Shane Helfner, who coaches both the girls and boys varsity tennis teams, began this initiative while coaching in Commack for 10 years, and decided to bring the event to Port.
The girls’ varsity tennis team held a similar event where the funds went toward breast cancer awareness.
“We’re going to do this every year,” said Helfner. “It’s something that I’m trying to add to the culture here. It’s one thing to do well on the court, but it’s another thing to stick out in some way. My goal for it is to have some of these guys go off to college and start their own events and take the initiative to do it. It takes some work but it’s worth it in the end.”
“We were definitely really excited about it,” added team member Justin Suzzan regarding the inaugural event. “It’s a really great cause and we’re just excited to get this going for our team and hopefully it goes well so we can continue next year.”
Helfner explained parents went out into the community and asked for donations from local stores to create 27 baskets with different themes containing items like gift cards for blowouts, manicures and restaurants and tickets to sporting events.
The collected funds will be donated to Port Washington’s chapter of Autism Speaks.
“I think it’s important we donate the money to a really good cause and I think autism awareness is worthy of publicizing and making aware for people,” said Helfner. “It was important to me that we try to give back to specifically something in Port Washington, so we’re excited to give it to Autism Speaks.”
Each student athlete asked a faculty member from any of the schools throughout the district to play alongside of them for the tournament.
“It was really good to get all the students and teachers together to play a nice tournament for charity,” team member Dylan Spilko said. “It’s good to raise money in a fun way. It’s going to be very interesting. It’s going to be a sight to see what they bring to the tennis court.”
By the end of the tournament, the team raised $1,300 and winners included Gabriele Brancatelli and Mr. Fish in first place, Ryoto Yoshinaga and Mr. Travis in second, Charlie Dash and Mr. Sepulvida in third and Justin Suzzan and Dr. Suzzan in fourth.