Thanks, Alice

Tennis community pools funds to honor dedicated fan with bench

Alice West, although shy about being in the spotlight, was recently recognized by the tennis community for her unmatched support and dedication to Hood River tennis.

“I love the game and love seeing the young people, with their athletic ability, pushing their skill level to improve over the course of a season,“ she said recently.

Leslie Kerr, former Hood River Valley High School girls tennis coach, acknowledged the “amazing presence and energy Alice brings to the court as a supporter.” According to Kerr, West comes to all of the home matches and sits in the same place — on a bench facing the three courts — to watch the athletes compete.

To honor West’s commitment to the tennis community, a group of local supporters and players raised $3,000 to purchase a bench in her name as part of the recently completed fundraising effort to renovate the courts.

West received the new of “Alice’s Bench” during her 78th birthday earlier this year, and while she has aged into the role of avid tennis fan, it should be mentioned that she remains a force to be reckoned with on the court. West said that her opponents “don’t often expect that someone with as much gray hair as me to be able to play, and keep the game fast.”

West began playing tennis when she was in high school, but had a lapse of nearly 50 years before picking up a racquet again, when the city of Hood River constructed the public courts at their May Street location across from Hood River Middle School about 15 years ago. According to West, tennis is valuable because it’s a sport that you can always come back to after you develop the muscle memory.

“I wouldn’t be where I am today — in excellent health — if it weren’t for tennis and the city courts,” she said.

The courts, officially named the Tsuruta Tennis Courts, are about to receive extensive renovations after a major fundraising effort organized by a committee formed for the task — the Hood River Tennis Court Committee (see accompanying story for renovation details). As a way to raise part of the roughly $260,000 needed for renovations, the committee came up with the idea of raising money for benches that would line the courts.

Thoughts immediately turned to West, and the amount of time and energy she spends watching tennis matches. Kerr said that an online and word-of-mouth fundraiser was a hit.

“As soon as people heard the idea, funds started coming in, even from as far away as Jackson Hole, Wyo., and the Tri-Cities, Wash.”

“Alice’s Bench” will be one of about 15, dedicated to an individual, business or organization for donating $3,000 to the renovation fund. Kerr said that as of this week, four more benches are available, and that although the major project funs have been raised, the committee is still accepting donations to help complete landscaping and additional work that was removed from the plans to lower the cost of the bid.

If you would like to donate money, purchase a bench or learn more about the campaign, visit the HRTCC fundraising page at http://bit.ly/HRTennis.

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