Summer Celebration! tennis tourney to honor Coach Hedlund

Karin Hedlund and her mother, Joyce Hedlund, a longtime coach at Mercer Island, with their dog, Acey, at the high school. - Contributed Photo
Karin Hedlund and her mother, Joyce Hedlund, a longtime coach at Mercer Island, with their dog, Acey, at the high school.
— image credit: Contributed Photo

It’s not exactly a new feature of Summer Celebration!, but it’s one that is happening again this year for a special purpose.

The Joyce Hedlund Memorial Tennis Tournament will take place from July 9 through July 11 at the City of Mercer Island’s annual Summer Celebration!

The tournament is something that Hedlund and private instructor Ryan Pang had done in the past. With Hedlund’s sudden death last November, Pang decided to reinstate the tournament in her honor. The goal is to help raise money for lighting the tennis courts at Mercer Island High School.

“I talked with Joyce for the last couple of years about bringing this back and using it as a fundraiser for the MIHS boys and girls tennis programs,” said Pang. “It never happened because I got busy and it didn’t really seem to me that Joyce really was behind me on it. She said it involved a lot of time and hard work, and since she knew I already ran a full-time summer tennis program at the MIHS courts I may not want to waste a weekend. But after her sudden passing, it became increasingly obvious to me what to name the tournament and my motivation for running it. Even more importantly, the city is allowing me to run it with the funds going to her memorial fund to get the MIHS courts lit.”

Hedlund’s daughter, Linda Farnsworth, said it had long been a goal of her mother’s to have lights at the courts.

“Mom hoped for the Mercer Island High School tennis [courts] to have lights installed,” said Farnsworth in an e-mail to the Mercer Island Rotary Club, of which Hedlund was a longtime member. “I think they had to stop practicing around 4:30 p.m. in the fall because it was already dark. She requested lights each year, but the school did not have the budget to allocate. Now that she is gone, many have put forth the energy in Mom’s name to collect funds to realize this dream of hers to light up the courts.”

The doubles tournament features adult, open and junior divisions. In the adult division there are men’s, women’s and mixed teams open, as with the junior divisions, open to kids 16 and under. The matches will be held at Mercer Island High School.

“We are hoping to get roughly eight teams for each division/event. But as of right now we don’t have the numbers we had hoped for,” said Pang. “I know that I can draw from the large amount of junior players that I coach, as well as the many men and women that I know around the Seattle and Bellevue area. It was always a small intimate tournament [in years past] amongst mostly Mercer Island residents; however, there was still a reasonable amount of competition.”

The first-place team in the tournament will win a $60 gift certificate and the second-place team will win a $40 gift certificate, while the consolation prize will be a $30 gift certificate.

But even if the tournament doesn’t get the full number of players that Pang hoped for this year, he will continue the tournament.

“As long as the Mercer Island community and MIHS athletic and tennis programs allow me, I plan on doing this tournament in Joyce’s honor,” he said. “She was very instrumental in helping me re-establish myself as a tennis coach here on the Island about four years back when I returned from California. Joyce also helped me get my first taste of high school coaching back in 1999 when she let me accompany her and the boys to the Ellensburg tournament, let me coach the JV team, and she let me run the 1999 boys KingCo tournament. She was also a very good friend of mine ever since I first met her as a substitute teacher in elementary school.”

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