For the third year, intrepid Northeastern court tennis players packed in to the house that Gould built in scenic Lakewood, New Jersey for the 2011 Lakewood Invitational.  True, Lakewood is a strange mix of influences these days, but parts of the Georgian Court University campus, where the court still remains, appear just as they did a hundred years ago.  The court, for those not familiar with it, is housed in a larger building called The Casino.  Court tennis was just one of the entertainments held within The Casino’s doors.  Our fair game was accompanied by hard racquets, polo, bowling, swimming, squash and perhaps fives—all in the same building. 

This, our third, year for this tournament, we expected to handle things a bit more formally.  But, there weren’t enough players this year to create the anxiety of last year’s “when am I playing again?”  Dave Sterrett and I like to say that the Lakewood Invitational is as disorganized as we can make it. 

Most American clubs were well represented this year.  From the T&R we had Arthur Drane, Phil Stockton, Tony and Maureen Ashmore, and Ken Forton.  From Prince’s Court we had Sara Lacombe, Jake McCray, Rich Moroscak and Dave Sterrett.  And from RCOP: Bruce Bogenrief, Sandy Leighton, Sean Quinn, Chris Bernabei, Jules Zacher and Schuyler Wickes.  Don’t forget the NTC, represented by Marc Lewinstein.  And then there was Bender.

Our day started at about 10 or so after we realized that we were locked out of the building.  Once we rousted Security to let us in, things started off smoothly.  We used the balls that our event last year paid to re-cover, and they were in great condition.  As in past years, we played informally, all doubles, for one standard set, then the next foursome would play.  People were content to talk and hang out while the others played.  No rush this year.

We had a special treat this year.  A gentleman who helped out Pierre Etchebaster at the R&T in the 70s dropped by to see the game for the first time in about 35 years.  I met Jeff through my brother-in-law, who lives near Lakewood.  Jeff’s mother was a secretary at the club, and he spent his school-time summers cleaning the court, stringing racquets, and introducing people to the game.  He got on court for a set and was very thankful to have played the game again; it looked like it brought back a flood of good memories.

Again, we grabbed pizza for lunch and tried to have some discrete adult beverages.  Apparently we weren’t discrete enough, so no “pops” next year.  We did a repeat dinner at the Hickory Hog, where just a few of us had great BBQ and some leftover beers.

This has turned into a very nice annual tradition.  This year’s fee of $35 covered court fees, lunch and another nice donation to the maintenance of the balls and court.  Come check it out next year!