For almost nine years, tennis has brought together a group of men in our community to play the game and enjoy their time together. On most Wednesday nights, you can find them on the Eagle Watch tennis courts playing in a league known as MTBNO (Men’s Tennis and Beer Night Out).
While the team members are athletic, typically competitive men, It’s evident that they don’t always take themselves seriously. At any point during a match, Commissioner Dan might pull out the league’s well-worn “book of rules” to correct a player when an error is made or a racket is thrown. For example, a citation from Section 10, Rule 423 might be quoted to remind players to mind their Ps and Qs. However, if you look closely, you’ll see the rule book is actually an old telephone book, and the penalties usually are made up on the spot.
The competition kicks in, however, as the evening wears on and the “champ trophy” for the winner of the Last Man Standing competition is up for grabs. The champ claims a shiny, plastic, handmade trophy, along with bragging rights − until the next week, when someone else will likely be crowned champ.
For those not ready for Wimbledon, don’t worry. There are trophies awarded to the first one to lose or the first man out (FMO). First man down (FMD) is harder to win, since it takes a bad spill or crash on the court to win this one. An injury will pretty much lock down this trophy for the unfortunate (or fortunate, depending on your view) bloke of the night. Wives or significant others are eligible for recognition, as well. The Best Trophy is given to the spectator who shows up and cheers the loudest.
With all kidding aside, this dedicated group of tennis lovers also loves and supports the community where they live. Many helped support the family of Tyler Rolison, a local resident who suffered spinal cord injuries in a car accident, which left him a quadriplegic. At the time of the accident, Rolison was a junior at Etowah High School. He was featured in our Everyday Angels in January 2012 and again in December 2016.
As time has passed, this group of tennis players has grown. Many of the newer players are sons of the original members. Dads have passed down their love of the game, friendship and community. Maybe this is one time that love isn’t nothing when it comes to tennis.