Serving Up Aces: Game, Set, Match

Photography by Mark Davidson and Pat Lassy

Thriving Tennis Program takes on the Indian Wells Tennis Garden

BIGHORN’s thriving tennis program had the amazing opportunity to play at the iconic Indian Wells Tennis Garden (IWTG), home of the prestigious BNP Paribas Open, not once, but twice this season. Owner of the IWTG, Larry Ellison, CEO and co-founder of Oracle, generously donated two very special tennis experiences. The first was a live auction item for the BIGHORN BAM Night of Miracles event: three hours of playing in Stadium 1, where only the very best are invited to play, including the Williams sisters, Sharapova, Djokovic, Federer, and Nadal. The stadium hosts the second largest tennis tournament in the world. A second opportunity came during the BIGHORN BAM Inaugural Tennis Charity Mixer in April.

The luckiest live auction winners were Pam & Peter McIlroy, longtime BAM supporters who purchased this ultimate package then proceeded to invite the entire tennis program to participate. On a gorgeous Saturday morning in March, right after the BNP Paribas tournament, a party bus shuttled the group to IWTG where BIGHORN Tennis Directors Dan Aubuchon and Frank Fanning lead drills on the extraordinarily expansive court.

“We were thrilled that everyone could share this experience,” exclaimed Peter. “Dan and Frank put together a fast-paced program of warm-up drills and men’s and ladies’ mixed doubles games. A dozen ball boys and girls and a professional umpire added a special touch to the experience. Winners were crowned in various categories, none of which had anything to do with tennis. As we always say, “ ‘Tennis players have more fun!’ ”

After the interactive drills, McIlroy along with Members Jeff Aarthun, John Ackermann, and Bruce Titcomb played a semi-competitive match adding to the awe-inspiring day they will never forget. Behind-the-scenes tours were also given for an insider’s look at players’ locker rooms, training facilities, and the Champions Room. Participants agreed the tour’s ultimate highlight was walking down the tunnel that the pros use to enter the stadium.

The sold-out BIGHORN BAM inaugural Tennis Charity Mixer cinched the win as the most successfully run charity tournament of the year. Players received drills by the most talented instructors in the Valley, followed by mixed doubles games on IWTG’s practice courts. Winning points went toward the ultimate prize – playing on the Stadium 2 court in front of your peers. The final matches came down to:

1st Match
Winners: Derrick Hoag and Lucy Zapf
Finalists: Cheryl Vecchiolla and Etti Zuckerman

2nd Match
Winners: Simone Walsh and Steve Rothenberg
Finalists: Kerry Killinger and Sandy Lemerise

“Experienced and new players enjoyed the fun, spirited atmosphere that we provided,” described tournament chairs Toni Ackermann and Lisa Reid. “Pairing that with the opportunity to support local cancer patients, we knew we had a winning combination!"

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