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This year's Wilson Tour for Hope Aloha Open tournament had 129 participants with most playing in 2 events. Of that total, 31 were women, a number that few tournaments see anymore. Competition was strong in all divisions and players came from as far as Louisiana to compete. There were also players making the trip from South Carolina, Georgia, Virginia, and Tennessee. This was the tenth anniversary of the Aloha Open and was one of the best yet. The tournament has always been played at the Winston Salem Athletic Club in Winston Salem, NC, and this year was played on June 17-19.

Aloha Open Hula GirlsThe Men's Open division included a drop down to Elite with the top prize in Open of $500 and a Men's Croton watch donated by one of our sponsors, the Croton Watch Co. The draw started with 15 players. The upset of the tournament was #7 seed Dereck Dirks taking out #2 seed and last year's Aloha Open winner Brent Walters in a thrilling 11-10 tiebreaker game. Dereck then proceeded to beat the #3 seed Jonathan Justice in the semi-final game in 2, with scores of 6 and 11. That set Dereck up for his first final in a state sanctioned event. His opponent in the finals would be the #1 seed, Jason Bledsoe. Jason played into the finals by taking out the #5 seed and crossover tennis player from Virginia, Youssef Bouzidi. Youssef gives many players fits with his unorthodox style of play and just plain crazy drop shots in the front corner. But Jason handled his style well this time with straight game wins of 10 and 9. Dereck put up a good fight in the finals, but Jason managed to pull off the win in 2 with scores of 13 and 14 to take the top prize and this year's Aloha Open's men's title. This year's women's side was unusual in that no women Open player's committed to the event. But our women's A draw was 10 players strong. In the final it was #4 seed Leigh Gintert beating the #3 seed Maria Swedeen in straight games for the women's title and the women's Croton watch.

For those that don't know the history of this event, here's a quick background. The Aloha Open tournament was held at this club for several year's in the late 80's, early 90's. The club then changed hands several times and the tournament died. In 2001 a couple of hard core racquetball players, Lynn Stephens and Bobby Thore decided to revive the tournament, but really step it up with the Hawaiian theme. Thus began one of the most popular tournaments in NC with it's great food, theme decorations, souvenir Hawaiian shirts, and Aloha party by the pool complete with Hula girls.

The Aloha Open Party by the Pool was a huge success this year even with the scare we had when a huge storm Tiki Awardspassed through Saturday night that threatened to move the party inside. The Aloha Party has never had to move inside in it's first ten years, but this looked like it might be the first time. Earlier in the afternoon we had just finished erecting our tent in preparation for the Tsunami Wave Riders Band when a huge storm quickly surprised us with intense wind. As we tried to hold the tent down, the wind crumpled the frame in our hands. Then the deck lounge chairs started flying at us to add to our dilemma. When it was over the tent was destroyed, and the rain continued to fall. What to do? We formulated and prepared for Plan B, which would have been to move it inside. Something we do not want to do with the number of people that attend this party. But just like in previous years, the storm cleared and the weather turned beautiful, allowing us to set up outside. The band didn't have a tent, but they set up anyway on the pool deck, betting on the weather staying nice. And it did. The earlier rain cooled off the heat of the Carolina day, and made for a very comfortable evening. With the help of our beautiful Hula Girls, Shawna and Shana, making sure everyone received a lei and then selling tickets to our charity raffle, and the great food that the Longhorn Steakhouse supplied, everyone seemed to really enjoy the evening. Of course Mr. Bush Hog (aka Mike Bourgeois) takes his duties at the Tiki Bar very serious and he made sure everyone had plenty of their favorite beverage throughout the evening. The Tsunami Wave Riders kept the music going and later in the evening band leader Ronnie Tsunami taught the Hula to our Hula girls and a few brave party souls. Winner of the Croton watch in our raffle was Jamie Byrd. Thanks to everyone that helped put on this event and especially to my tournament partner Mike Bourgeois. Without the help of Paul and Joy Job, Donna and Clay Matthews, and Bobby Thore this event would not be possible. I'd also like to thank our great food sponsors, Chick-Fil-A, Olive Garden, Longhorn Steakhouse, Mayflower Seafood, and Krispy Kreme Doughnuts. Thanks to Jeff West and Shelbilyn Boelsche for taking some great photos of the event. With over 200 photos they are broken up into 3 different albums under the Aloha Open 11 album. For the tournament results and photos check out the links below.


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