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Binding Together

Watson Brown has piles of photos and event booklets from the Delaware Sickle Cell Tennis Tournament that could fill a closet.

With 40 years of history and still plenty of plans for the future, he only expects that pile to grow.

Brown, who has been involved with running the tournament since 1982, is one of the many Delaware-based tennis advocates who come together each year to play the game they love for a cause close to their hearts: Sickle Cell Disease research.

Sickle cell disease is the most common inherited blood disorder in the United States, with approximately 100,000 Americans having the disease. In the United States, sickle cell disease is most prevalent among African Americans.

“The tournament actually started in 1978,” said Brown, an avid player. “A group of recreational tennis players would play at the Rodney Street Courts. And one day, two of the guys who played down there decided to have a tournament, and raise money. They chose to raise money to fight Sickle Cell Disease.”

Since then, the annual tournament has raised an incredible $275,000 to fight the disease. In 2016 it had 177 players competing across NTRP rating categories from 3.0 to 4.5, along with an open division, in the city of Wilmington.

In all of his time being involved, Brown has seen plenty of change.

“For one thing, making the draw is easier now,” he said with a smile. “Years ago, we would call people with all of the starting times, all of the changes. Now we get to just type it in. We’ll see where it goes from here.”

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