The annual Tennis Ball: A Grand Slam Event, took place on Friday, April 14, at Michael’s On East capping off the 2023 Joey Gratton Tennis Championship and closing out the final weekend of The Elizabeth Moore Sarasota Open.
Both the Joey Gratton Tennis Championship and the Tennis Ball honor the legacy of the late Joey Gratton, who was an exceptional athlete and beloved philanthropist in Sarasota. Proceeds benefit Boys & Girls Clubs of Sarasota and DeSoto Counties Foundation and USTA Foundation.
The evening entertained nearly 300 guests, including several well-known athletes from the Sarasota tennis community. The cocktail reception kicked off at 6 p.m., and featured hors d'oeuvres prepared by Michael's On East, a silent auction, and a chance drawing to win a 1oz American Eagle Gold Coin pendant valued at over $3,000.
At 7:30 p.m., auctioneer and local comedian, Les McCurdy invited everyone to take their seats to begin the program and welcomed Bill Sadlo, BGCSDC President/CEO to the stage. Sadlo said, “our organization is able to make such a significant impact on the lives of the children and teens we serve thanks to the generosity of community leaders like Barbara Lancer, the dedication of the event committee, and the generous sponsors whose contributions ensure a successful event. “The proceeds will ultimately help to empower our youth to succeed in school, become leaders, live healthy lifestyles and graduate with a plan to obtain a career or post-secondary education,” said Sadlo. Sadlo then thanked and introduced the event committee calling them the “dream team and hardest working co-chairs he’s ever seen.”
Co-Chairs, Barbara Lancer, Christina Bonilla and Amy Lyons then took to the stage and thanked everyone for helping thousands of youth achieve their full potential at the Boys & Girls Clubs of Sarasota and DeSoto Counties and recognized the key sponsors of the evening including Elizabeth Moore, Remington Reynolds, and Steve Gareleck of the Elizabeth Moore Sarasota Open, Juice Plus, Jay Martin Foundation, and Teixeira Family Foundation. The Co-Chairs then presented the annual Jimmy Arias Cup and Scholarship to high school student, Jackson C., who was unable to join in person, but accepted via video.
Guests enjoyed an artfully prepared dinner by Michael's on East before McCurdy resumed the program by introducing BGCSDC Club member, Daria T., who shared her own deeply personal story reminding the audience of the power of their philanthropy and the impact it can have on the trajectory of young lives. Daria said, “I spend most of my time at the Boys & Girls Club. It is where I can express my true self and continue to learn. It is where I discovered my passion for advocacy and became a leader. It is where I have overcome countless obstacles, such as my mom’s addiction. Daria continued, “the Club introduced me to my passion and future major, political science. I realized advocating for others and issues I believe in is something I want to do for the rest of my life. I am committed to reforming the criminal justice and rehab systems for other children and their parents.” Daria plans to pursue a double major in computer science and political science at Florida State University in the fall.
McCurdy then led guests into the live auction as dessert was being served. Items included an exclusive US Open President’s Suite Pass Package, One Hour of Play on Center Court in Arthur Ashe Stadium (with airfare), a one week stay in the south of France, golf with LGPA professional, Nelly Korda, a Necker Cup Luxury Catamaran Yacht Trip, and many more. Following the live auction, there was a “bid from the heart” paddle raise followed by the announcement of the chance drawing winner.
The evening closed with guests dancing the night away to the sounds of DJ Joey D.
Two weeks prior to the Ball, the Joey Gratton Tennis Championship took place on Saturday to Sunday, April 1-2, at the Sarasota Sports Club. The Joey Gratton Tennis Championship was created in 2011 to honor his legacy and spread his passion for competition by supporting youth programs through sports. The family established the Joey Gratton Foundation in his honor to create opportunities for those that may not have the chance. The Joey Gratton Foundation and Boys & Girls Clubs of Sarasota and Desoto Counties both believe in helping local youth build a greater, brighter future.
Following the Joey Gratton Championship, The Elizabeth Moore Sarasota Open kicked off with a Pro-Am Kids Clinic on Saturday, April 8 followed by a week of matches that closed out on Sunday, April 16.
These events would not have been possible without the commitment from our incredible sponsors and committee members.
Jeffrey Roberti Foundation, Juice Plus, Teixeira Family Foundation, and Jay Martin Foundation
Grand Slam Sponsor:
Schofield & Spencer
Barbara & Jay Lancer, Deanna & Ken Rollyson, and Sarasota Open
Raymond James, LCM Capital Advisors, Neil McCurry, Spring Well Water, Relax Realty Group, Band, Gates & Dramis P.L., Lee Wetherington Homes, Kathy & Dan McMahon, Syprett, Meshad P.A., The Ernie Garcia Group at Morgan Stanley, Rosecorp Construction/Amy & Rob Lyons, Michael & Judy Scharf, Kristine Fitts, Laura and Gaylon Peters, Bobby & Christina Bonilla, Jimmy & Gina Arias, Tom & Debbie Shapiro, and Lee Ann Corry/Elizabeth Nace.
Davis Cup Sponsor
Karen L Chapman M.D., P.A., Armstrong, Fleming & Moore, Inc., RAVE Imaging, Kennedy-White Orthopaedic Center, Mighty Dog Roofing, and The Starling Group.
ABOUT BOYS & GIRLS CLUBS OF SARASOTA AND DESOTO COUNTIES: Boys & Girls Clubs of Sarasota and DeSoto Counties have played an integral role in the lives of local youth for more than 50 years, providing daily programs and services to thousands of young people. The mission of Boys & Girls Clubs of Sarasota and DeSoto Counties is to enable all young people, especially those who need us most, to reach their full potential as productive, caring, responsible citizens. The vision is to provide a world-class Club experience that assures success is within reach of every young person who walks through our doors, with all members on track to graduate from high school with a plan for the future, demonstrating good character and citizenship, and living a healthy lifestyle. For more information, visit www.bgcsdc.org or call 941-366-3911.
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