By Marlena Chavira-Medford
Tennis pro Gretchen Magers is a four-time All American who has played Wimbledon, the US Open and the French Open. Her contemporary Patricia Tarabini won the bronze medal during the 2004 Olympics, where she represented her homeland Argentina. At the height of their careers, each was ranked in the top 30 in the world — and this month, two lucky residents will have a shot at sharing the court with them.
One-on-one sessions with these and other top athletes will be raffled off during a May 22 tennis tournament that raises money for ConKerr Cancer San Diego, a nonprofit that aims to brighten hospital visits for critically ill children by giving them colorful handmade pillowcases. The Optimist Club of Del Mar-Solana Beach, Lomas Santa Fe Country Club and UCSD are teaming up to host the fundraising tournament, which is open to 16 doubles.
“This tournament is a win-win: You get to play with some of the top tennis players out there today, and help kids in the process — nobody can turn that down,” said Woody Yocom, director of tennis at Lomas Santa Fe Country Club and chairman for this event.
“Also, the money raised from this tournament will benefit kids right here in San Diego,” added Audrey Eller, who has been a member of the Optimist Club of Del Mar-Solana Beach for 23 years and is the regional coordinator for ConKerr Cancer San Diego.
ConKerr Cancer San Diego volunteers make colorful handmade pillowcases, which are then taken to children in local hospitals, where each patient gets to pick two pillowcases as a keepsake.
“Hospital rooms tend to be very stark and sterile, but these pillowcases are a burst of cheer for the children there,” Eller said. “As one mother put it, these pillowcases made her son feel like a special kid, not a sick kid. This is such a worthy cause, and we certainly hope the community will join us in helping to support it.”
In fact, the community is encouraged to come cheer on the tennis players during the May 22 tournament, as admission to the event is free. The event will begin with a 9 a.m. exhibition, followed by the tennis tournament from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. The public is also invited to take part in a silent auction that day, which includes dining, golf, and entertainment package prizes.
Registration fees for players are $150 for Lomas Santa Fe Country Club members, and $175 for non-members. That registration fee includes box lunch and all tournament participants get a free session with 10-time Ironman athlete-turned-trainer Pablo Healing. Once you register to play, your name will be automatically entered into a drawing for a chance to win a one-hour session with a top tennis player, including Patricia Tarabini and Gretchen Magers. Additional tickets can be purchased for $5 for one, $10 for four, and $20 for 10.
For information about ConKerr Cancer San Diego, visit