They weren’t as swift as they once were, but the passion was still there. The men who gathered during Saturday’s warm morning at the Turlock Fitness & Racquet Club weren’t going to back down from each other, evident by their hard serves and the playful trash-talking that was overheard.
This was male-bonding at its finest.
And it wasn’t just any typical male-bonding experience, either. The men — most of them in their 40s and 50s and with connections to Turlock — were meeting for the 35th year in a row for competitive yet fun matches, as this year’s event was known as the Stevens and Tamimi Open.
Thirty-five years ago, the event began to raise money for the Cal State Stanislaus men’s and women’s tennis teams. But after the school ended the programs, the men involved in putting the fundraising event together — which was first known as the Sunsports Open before being called the Tamimi Real Estate Open — decided to keep playing for themselves.
On Saturday, 18 players from the Turlock area and as far as Reno, Nev., and San Diego met and played until the afternoon, going hard on every shot and serve in a tournament-style format — though it was evident by their smiles that they were enjoying the time as well.
This year’s number of participants was comparable to the event’s 30th year celebration.
There were two overall winners, in Mark Stevens and Barney Barker (both of Turlock).
Some of the men only see each other during this time of the year. After the matches, they went to dinner to share stories. On the following day, the few that stayed behind in the Turlock area went golfing together.
“It’s a great opportunity to catch up with everyone’s life,” said event co-sponsor Niniv Tamimi, who spent Saturday observing the matches.
Mark and Robert Stevens, who were two of Saturday’s participants, began the event in 1975, when Robert was playing for the Warriors men’s tennis team. It was initially an open tournament for Northern California players, with the proceeds going to the Warriors tennis program.
For the past 17 years, the event has turned into an invitational.
After Stanislaus resurrected its women’s tennis team three years ago (after it was eliminated following the 1991 season), the participants in Saturday’s tennis event are planning to donate the proceeds to this year’s Warriors.
To contact Chhun Sun, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org or call 634-9141 ext. 2041.