On the evening of Friday, Feb. 10, many local tennis enthusiasts with a passion for helping animals gathered to play in support of a good cause. The event, held at the Wellington Tennis Center, was the fourth annual Lisa Bowman Triples Tennis Tournament. It was a benefit for X-Port Paws (XPP), a local and national canine rescue group.
The event is named in honor of the late Lisa Bowman, who was a beloved teammate, friend, sister, daughter, aunt and dog rescue advocate.
“It was all about the community coming together with the common purpose of raising awareness to save dogs,” event organizer Liz Stockton said. “More than one million companion animals are killed every year in this country. X-Port Paws was created as a nonprofit entity to find a way to put an end to this needless and unnecessary killing. The mission for XPP is to get dogs out of shelters who are on the ‘X’ list, which is dogs who are slated to be killed through no fault of their own.”
The goal of XPP is to take these abandoned dogs and transport them to safety so they can be given a second chance at life. X-Port Paws hires, transports, boards, vets and fosters to ensure the safety of these dogs.
“X-Port Paws is an all-volunteer organization, which came together to save dogs because there are too many wonderful dogs being destroyed when those dogs either were, or could be, someone’s beloved companion,” Stockton said. “X-Port Paws wants to educate the public that we can do better. We collaborate with many entities in order to make this goal a success. Through education, legislation, sterilization and the ‘11 Step No-Kill Formula’ by Nathan Winograd, we are optimistic that we can achieve the goal of no more unwanted animals and overcrowded shelters. With the $10,000 raised by this event, we took one step closer to achieving our attainable dream. With every forehand winner, backhand crosscourt and ace, we are ‘acing’ our goals!”
This year’s Triples Tennis Tournament had 28 teams, each with three participants. Many of the teams had matching uniforms. The winner of the best team name was “2 Bs and a Hoe.” The team with the best team uniform was “Team Where’s the PAWty At?” There were four division winners during the tournament: Team Gordon, Team Where’s the PAWty At?, Team Unleashed and Team Racquettes.
The Wellington Tennis Center provided support staff and volunteers, and two of the rescue dogs were on site. They were Daphne, a shepherd mix, and Eduardo, a Doberman/shepherd/ridgeback mix.
The contingent of volunteers supporting the event came from the students who are members of the X-Port Paws Club at Wellington High School. One of those students was Aya Goldman, a sophomore, who started this club, which now has 25 members.
“High school kids are going to help change the narrative about how we treat our companion animals,” Goldman said.
The event was also supported by more than 25 tennis pros, which included Wellington Tennis Center Director Chuck Gill and four well-known professional players from international tennis — Dick Stockton, Harold Solomon, John Lloyd and Lisa Bonder.
Stockton, once ranked No. 8 in the world and a former Davis Cup player for the U.S, won eight singles titles and was a semifinalist at Wimbledon in 1974 and the French Open in 1978.
Solomon, once ranked No. 4 in the world and a former Davis Cup player for the U.S., won 22 singles titles and reached the finals of the French Open in 1976.
Lloyd, a former top-ranked tennis player in Great Britain and an ex-Davis Cup player and captain for Great Britain, was a finalist in the 1977 (December) Australian Open and a three-time Grand Slam mixed doubles winner.
Bonder, once ranked No. 9 in the world, won four singles titles on the WTA circuit.
Sponsors of the fourth annual Lisa Bowman Triples Tennis Tournament were: the Village of Wellington, the Katragadda Family, Junko Fujii Homes, Mamma Mia’s Trattoria, BG Squared, U Mortgage, Jake’s Pet Supply, Bluefish Sport, Sloan’s, Lindburgers and Mobile Tack.
In addition to Liz Stockton and chief operating officer Michelle Katzman, the tournament committee included chair Ria Katragadda and co-chairs Juliet Keane, Junko Goldman and Trixie Blouin.