Through rain and late nights, the fifth annual Hits for Hope Tournament prevailed for the cause, to raise money and awareness to suicide prevention.
Though Hits for Hope has only been around for a few years, it has grown into one of the most popular and successful tournaments in the state. The tournament has grown each year and, according to tournament director and founder Ryan Knarr, has risen from 103 players and 13 events in its first year to 300 players in 25 events this year.
This year was unlike the rest, however, as rain threatened the outdoor tournament.
“Within the first four years of the tournament, there has been one day of rain,” Knarr said. “This year, we had to be indoors three days.”
The rain caused some issues with scheduling and some of the matches ran longer than scheduled, making for some late nights for those both playing and watching. The tournament was scheduled to run from 8 a.m. to 10 p.m. but on Friday night, two separate courts were playing past 2 a.m. The tournament organizers handled the rain issues with ease, however, locking down backup courts all over the county and switching up the indoor matches to eight-game pro sets.
It was more than just the tournament organizers who had to make changes. The players had to adjust to the indoor play which, according to several players, is harder than it might look. Kevin Tran, a college student at Millersville University, along with his partner, Colin Muraika, were two of those players impacted by the change when their quarterfinal doubles match was moved indoors.
“It’s hard to adjust when you’re playing outside all summer and then you go indoors to fast courts, but everyone has to play on it so I can’t really complain,” Tran said.
A positive change in the tournament this year, not spurred by weather, was the addition of tournament co-director, Alyssa Gleason.
Gleason, who has several years of tennis experience in the area, was excited to help.
“It’s something I’ve always wanted to do and I’m happy to be brought on,” she said. “I’m honored to codirect this tournament, especially for this cause.”
Together, Knarr and Gleason worked on planning the tournament since November.
“It’s been hundreds of hours, dozens of days, many sleepless nights and coffee runs, but it’s awesome because it brings together a large tennis community and all for a good cause,” Knarr said. “Suicide is not talked about enough.”
Hits for Hope has plenty of history. Knarr started the tournament five years ago to be able to utilize tennis as a platform and to contribute to a charity near and dear to his heart. He plans on continuing to grow it as the years progress.
“Alyssa and I both look forward to making the tournament even better next year with more players, more events and more excitement,” Knarr said.
Tournament draws, winners and more can be found by clicking here.