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The Disco Tennis Ball and Joey Gratton Championship Serve Up Support for Boys & Girls Clubs of Sarasota and DeSoto Counties

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The Disco Tennis Ball (formerly the Annual Tennis Ball, A Grand Slam Event) took place on Friday, April 12 at Michael’s on East, celebrating the 2024 Joey Gratton Tennis Championship the Elizabeth Moore Open, and the inaugural 2024 Pickleball Tournament.

Both the Joey Gratton Tennis Championship and the Disco Tennis Ball honor the legacy of the late Joey Gratton, an exceptional athlete and beloved philanthropist in Sarasota. Proceeds from the events benefit Boys & Girls Clubs of Sarasota and DeSoto Counties (BGCSDC) Foundation.

Over 300 guests arrived in their disco best for the newly themed event and enjoyed cocktails in the atrium, silent and live auctions, surprise chance drawings, and dancing to the sounds of DJ Al Garcia.

The official program commenced at 7:30 p.m. with local auctioneer, comedian, and MC for the evening, Les McCurdy, extending a warm welcome to all attendees. Les then passed the microphone to Bill Sadlo, President/CEO of BGCSDC, who recognized the presence of board members and urged guests unfamiliar with the organization to explore its transformative programs and opportunities through guided tours. He also praised the dedication of Foundation Board Member and Event Chair, Barb Lancer, and Event Co-Chairs, Amy Lyons, and Yudi Carpenter, for their invaluable contributions in orchestrating a highly successful evening in support of the BGCSDC mission.

Barb then took to the stage to thank supporters for their commitment to helping thousands of youth achieve their full potential at BGCSDC. Key sponsors were then recognized including The Albert and Jay Martin Family Foundation, Juice Plus+/Jeff Roberti, Elizabeth Moore with the Sarasota Open, and Schofield & Spencer.

Joey Gratton’s sons, Blake and Brock Gratton were then invited to the stage to present, student Jeremiah Brasell with the Jimmy Arias Cup and Scholarship in recognition of his outstanding play and dedication.

After guests enjoyed a gourmet dinner, Les continued the program with the live auction segment, offering various exclusive experiences including tickets to Larry Ellison's private "Champions Club" at Indian Wells, a luxury catamaran trip to Necker Island for a Pickleball Forum & Pro-Am event, a round of golf with LGPA professional Nelly Korda, and many others.

After the live auction, Les introduced Ashley V, a Club member of BGCSDC, a Townsend Scholar, and a finalist for the 2024 Youth of the Year, along with her father, Manny V. They shared a heartfelt account of their family's experience with the Club.

Ashley expressed, “Without the Club, I would not have had the resources to champion and receive this honor. The Club has helped make a reality of my and my parents’ “American Dream,” of studying my passion.” She went on to share, “My experiences with the Boys & Girls Club have shaped me, and I am committed to paying it forward and empowering others through sharing my wisdom, support, and leadership skills.  More than just an after-school haven, it has become my second home, shaped my character, and provided opportunities for personal and academic growth. I can proudly call myself a member of the Boys & Girls Club of Sarasota and DeSoto Counties.”

Manny also shared a poignant narrative of his journey to America and attaining citizenship, describing it as one of the most significant moments in his life. He expressed his lifelong desire to ensure his children had access to the resources necessary for success, something he lacked while growing up.

Manny explained, "I always wanted to ensure that my kids had every opportunity to thrive, something I didn't have in my youth." He continued, "Upon learning about the Boys & Girls Clubs, I saw it as a valuable resource for Ashley to enhance her English skills, receive academic support, and engage socially with peers while my wife and I were working. I wanted my children to build connections and support networks that I never had the chance to experience. Little did I know the profound impact the Boys & Girls Club would have on our lives."

Ashley will embark on her college career at the University of Florida in the fall to pursue a major in Biomedical Sciences where she hopes to “continue growing as a leader through and for my community” and ultimately, fulfill her dream of becoming a doctor.

After Ashley and Manny received a standing ovation, Les initiated the "bid from the heart" paddle raise and announced the winners of the chance drawing. The evening concluded with guests boogieing the night away to disco hits from the 70s.

Joey Gratton Tennis Championships and Elizabeth Moore Sarasota Open:

Two weeks before the Disco Tennis Ball, the Joey Gratton Tennis Championship took place from March 23-24, 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 who 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. All proceeds support the Boys & Girls Clubs of Sarasota and DeSoto Counties Foundation.

Following the Joey Gratton Championship, The Elizabeth Moore Sarasota Open was held from April 7-14 at Payne Park in Sarasota. In addition, an inaugural Pickleball event was held at Pompano Trailhead on April 20.

Special thank you to the Tournament Directors, Kathy Rosenberg and Julie Stewart whose leadership and dedication made the Tennis and Pickleball Championships possible.

Additional thanks to all of the sponsors for your steadfast support of the mission.

G.O.A.T Sponsor

The Albert and Jay Martin Family Foundation

Grand Slam Sponsor

Juice Plus+/Jeff Roberti, Elizabeth Moore with the Sarasota Open, and Schofield & Spencer

Legend Sponsors

Barbara and Jay Lancer

Deanna and Ken Rollyson

David Balot

Ace Sponsors

Raymond James, LCM Capital Advisors and Steve Townsend, Spring Well Water, Lee Ann Corey, Relax Realty Group, Tom & Debbie Shapiro, Syprett, Meshad P.A., Lee Wetherington Homes, Amy & Rob Lyons and Kathy Rosenberg, Chad Gates, Kimberly Pelyk, Kiki Bowers and Mike Johnson, Gaylon and Robert Peters/Gray and Mike Swor, Mike Scharf, Marissa Matusich-Kagle, Garcia Family Wealth Management Group at Morgan Stanley, Neil McCurry, Mighty Dog Roofing, and Karen Chapman M.D.

Congratulations to the 2024 Joey Gratton Tennis Championship Winners!

Women’s 7.0: Kathy Sawyer and Lori Madden

Women’s 8.0: Yudi Carpenter and Coquina Homer

Women’s 9.0: Kelly Dancer and Jen Peters

Men’s 7.0: Grover Windsor and Nadar Massoumi

Men’s 8.0 – Kip Schoonover and Barney Aikierman

Men’s 9.0: Dean Dancer and Jeff Stern

Men’s Open: Michael Moore and Nick Gutsche

Men’s SS: Mark Taylor and Dan McClure

Mixed 7.0: Jennifer Douglas Herke and Nelson Cabrera

Mixed 8.0: Nina Mortazaui and Calvin Hac

Mixed 9.0: Sonja Dickey and Jeff Stern

Mixed Open: Dean Dancer and Kelly Dancer

Congratulations to the 2024 Pickleball Tournament Winners!

Women’s mixed ages (0-60+)

First Place: Jenny Chen and Gisselle

Second Place: Karen Pettine and Olivia Olivera

Third Place: Gigi Tracy and Josette Armani

3.5 mixed ages (0-59)

First Place: Hannah Roberson & Taryn Darley

Second Place: Mena Freed and Trish Daigle

Third Place: Zhiwen Zhang & Bavna Mayor

 3.5 (60+)

First Place: Lori Faunce & Susie Marro

Second Place: Hillary Bardwell & Wendy Tinney

Third Place: Joann Baldwin & Cynthia England

4.0 (40-59)

First Place: Maryann Copley & Cindy Kick-Greesock

Second Place: Lucy Gardner & Jen Schwab

Third Place: Jennifer Bright & Beth Greene


3.0 mixed ages (0-60+)

First Place: Jeff Morgan & Ben Foss

Second Place: Mario Tricocio & Appacacio Quintero

Third Place: Casey Featheroff & Dennis Koroll

3.5 mixed ages (0-59)

First Place: Sean Eaton & Casey Clough

Second Place: Tait Torstenson & Ronnie Roberson

Third Place: Eddie Vasquez & Tim Koons-McGee

3.5 (60+)

First Place: Ronald Brun & Henry Raines

Second Place: Robert Maciago & Stephen Rushton

Third Place: Mark Reeves & Jorge Romano

4.0 mixed ages (three teams 0-39, and one team 60+)

First Place: Sean Engel & Brody Mann

Second Place: Robert Paslaqua & Max Mann

Third Place: Jeff Roberti & Steve Kempton

4.0 (40-59)

First Place: Adam Chevalier & Edward Mench

Second Place: Barry Wolf & Brian Grogan

Third Place: John Copley & Mark Pettalia

Mixed Doubles

3.0 Winners: Jenny Chen & Ben Foss 

3.5 Winners: Hanna Roberson & Casey Clough

4.0 Winners: Maryann Copley & Edward Mench

Learn More:

Click here for more information about the Joey Gratton Championship

Click here for more information about the Elizabeth Moore Sarasota Open

Media Coverage:

SRQ Magazine

Scene Magazine

For More Photos:

Event Photos

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