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Published by the Booster Clubs of America
What could delight a young tennis player more than a Tennis Marathon - endless hours of playing at a favorite sport? It's not quite like that but it is a great way to combine fund-raising with a tennis court atmosphere.
Organized along the lines of the walkathons that have already become popular, a Tennis Marathon permits participants to use their racquet skills in a relaxed situation. In brief, they choose one of several tennis-related activities in which to take part and obtain sponsors who pledge donations to the cause for which they are working, based on each youngster's ability in his or her chosen area.
For instance, the contestant might sign up to see how many fair balls he can hit back across the net in a given time - half an hour or an hour. the sponsor has pledged an amount for each ball returned - say $.02 each. If the player successfully makes 55 shots, the sponsor contributes $1.10, which the participant collects in a return visit after the marathon.
In figuring profits from this particular form of fundraising, it would have to be determined how many participants could be recruited, how many sponsors it is estimated each could get and how much might be earned from these donations. Other related money-makers could be the selling of cold drinks and food to the audience and in the sale of appropriately marked T-shirts.
If some good prizes can be obtained for the contestants, it would be feasible to charge a registration fee. Each entrant could be issued one of the special T-shirts, with the fee adjusted to cover the cost of the shirt plus a dollar or so more.
There are several other kinds of marathon events, in addition to the earlier described one where the contestant tries to see how many times he can hit the ball across the net into the legal zone in a specified amount of time. Half an hour is probably all the younger players can handle; older participants might do a one-hour stint. Adjust the time to fit the age group.
On another court entrants can try to see how many good serves they can put across the net. Both these activities will require a partner to feed the balls, as well as an official counter.
A backboard can be used for a third activity - counting to see how many times, after one bounce, the ball can be hit against the backboard
With some brainstorming, following this general outline, the planning group may be able to come up with more ideas for the skill games.
It will add excitement too if there is an oral countdown in the last minute of each turn, with play continuing after the limit until the next miss. These post-game points would be worth double.
If time is strictly kept and the next contestant ready to go on immediately, it should be easy to adhere to the schedule and truly make this a marathon event.
Officials needed for the marathon are judges and counters, someone at every court to serve or feed balls to the contestants, and a few relief people.
A players roster for each court should be made up ahead of time, assigning a time slot to each participant.
Judges will rule on fairness of shots and official counters will keep track, with the use of hand counters, of the number of serves or returns made. If you are short on people to serve as officials, the counters can also be the judges.
Supplies needed are clickers (counters), stopwatches or timers, stools for the officials and loudspeakers for announcing the scores. Since this will go on for some hours, see if the budget will allow for the renting of folding chairs for the spectators, if they cannot be borrowed.
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Published by the Booster Clubs of America and reprinted with permission.