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Southlake Style

Southlake Tennis Center to Host 22nd Annual SOS Tournament

Apr 29, 2013 11:44AM ● By tina

22nd Annual SOS Tennis Benefit Raises Funds and "Love" for Victims of Domestic Violence

Submitted by Tracy L. Southers, APR

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It is not instantly apparent what tennis and local women's shelters have in common. But since 1991, a direct link was established when Mid-Cities Supporters of SafeHaven (SOS) hosted its inaugural tennis benefit to raise funds for SafeHaven of Tarrant County, which operates two emergency shelters for survivors of domestic violence. What began as a small tournament with approximately 40 players is now a three-day event with nearly 240 players from throughout the metroplex. The 22nd Annual SOS Tennis Benefit will take place May 14-16 at Southlake Tennis Center and is open to players of all levels.

According to Elaine Terry, who helped start the tennis benefit and has served as chair or co-chair for the past 15 years, it began as a social gathering for local women and officially became a fundraiser in 1991.

"It started with about 20 ladies who played in Bedford and donated $10 each to SafeHaven. I have played in the tournament every year and this is how I got involved with SOS," she says, noting the first tournament raised approximately $800. 

As one of only two fundraisers hosted each year by SOS (its annual Celebrity Chefs event was held in January), the tennis benefit offers a good time on and off the courts, but it has a serious purpose: to assist SafeHaven of Tarrant County in its mission to end family violence through financial support and by promoting community awareness of family violence.

"We don't think of domestic violence as being an issue in our communities, but it is important to make women aware that there is some place they can go," Terry continues. "Almost every year during the tournament, a woman comes up to me and says that either she or someone she knows received help from SafeHaven." 

Since its inception, the SOS Tennis Benefit has raised more than $250,000 for SafeHaven of Tarrant County. These funds are used to uphold SafeHaven's mission to change the lives of women and children affected by domestic violence. SafeHaven offers a multitude of programs and services to protect victims and create opportunities to achieve independence and self-sufficiency:

  • Two emergency shelters with a combined 174-bed capacity that provide safety planning, living quarters, meals, clothing, transportation and medical/dental care referrals.
  • SafeLiving, a transitional living program that successfully moves families from shelter to independence.
  • SafeResponse, a 24/7 crisis intervention program available to hospitals and law enforcement.
  • CampHeart, a weekend camping program for child victims.
  • SafePlay, a sports camp program for child victims.

The 2012 tennis benefit raised approximately $30,000 which funded children at the shelter attending Camp Awesome. In 2011, two vans were purchased to transport women and children at the shelters to appointments and activities. Funds raised this year are earmarked to redesign the website for SafeHaven of Tarrant County.

"We typically dedicate the money raised for children's programs, especially during the summer to give them something fun to do, but re-doing the website is important to reach as many people as possible," states Deanna Stuart, current president of Mid-Cities SOS, adding that the organization has donated more than $1 million total to SafeHaven.

The tennis benefit was played at Hackberry Creek Country Club and Richland Tennis Center before moving to Southlake Tennis Center in 2000 where it has remained ever since. Mia Gordon-Poorman, general manager of Southlake Tennis Center, became the tournament director in 2002 and has co-chaired the event for the past three years. 

"This event and organization is near and dear to my heart. Not only do we host it here, but we also bring children from Safehaven into our junior summer camp program each year, " says Gordon-Poorman, noting 100 percent of the entry fees go to SOS and all expenses are covered by sponsors. "Playing tennis is not only great physical activity for the kids, but it helps them develop social skills and self esteem."

A popular event for many players at Southlake Tennis Center, Gordon-Poorman says players also come from Arlington, Flower Mound, Keller and Grapevine. Each team will play in a round robin, with the winners from each division playing in the finals:

  • Tuesday, May 14: Levels 3.0B & 3.0A
  • Wednesday, May 15: Levels 4.0B & 4.0A+
  • Thursday, May 16: Levels 3.5B & 3.5A

The tournament starts promptly at 8:45 a.m. each day and lunch and awards are held at 1:00 p.m. The entry fee is $50 per player and includes a light breakfast, snacks, lunch and gift. In addition to the action on the court, there will be a silent auction and basket raffle. Deadline for registration/payment is May 3.

Tracy Southers, APR, is president of WordPlay, LLC, a public relations agency in Grapevine, Texas.  The company’s services include consulting, copywriting, marketing communications, publicity, social media and special event planning.  For more information, visit WordPlay Texas or call 817.756.1233.