Kelli O’Laughlin tennis tournament a smashing success

Organizers of the Kelli Joy O’Laughlin Memorial Tennis Open are thrilled with how participation has grown since the tournament started in 2012.

“It’s absolutely amazing,” said Dave Evans, the tournament director and tennis director for Western Springs Recreation Department.

From the first year to this, the third, year of the event, named in honor of 14-year-old Kelli who was murdered in her Indian Head Park home in October 2011, registration has grown from 50 players to 104, Evans said.

Each player was guaranteed two matches in the USTA-sanctioned event for boys and girls singles, boys and girls doubles, and adult men singles.

Participants wore T-shirts that read, “We play for the joy of the game, the joy of winning and always for Kelli Joy.”

“Kelli was a big part of our tennis program in Western Springs,” said Megan Hickey, a senior at Lyons Township High School, who met Kelli through the tennis program at Spring Rock Park. “It means a lot to see all the people who came out for a sport that was important to Kelli.”

Players not only from Western Springs, La Grange and Hinsdale came, but also from as far away as Lake Forest, Libertyville, St. Charles and Munster, Ind.

Evans believes the fact the tournament honors a beloved girl who loved tennis had a “significant impact on why we had such a great turnout.”

The June 27-29 competition was held at Spring Rock Park in Western Springs and Gilbert Park in La Grange.

“At 7 p.m. Saturday, the rain came down in torrents and we had to move to the Score Tennis & Fitness facility in Countryside,” Evans said. “That was our backup solution and nobody went home. We played until 10:15 p.m.”

Check the U.S. Tennis Association’s website, at usta.com for results.

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