Host Illinois Provides Unique Atmosphere at Olympia Fields Invitational
by Colette Lewis
, 21 September 2012
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Golf has always been king at the Olympia Fields Country Club in the southern suburbs of Chicago, the home of the 2003 US Open. But with the introduction of the Olympia Fields Invitational six years ago, college tennis is now a new member of the royal box.
The tournament, played on six Har-Tru courts nestled between the North and South golf courses, is hosted by the University of Illinois
, whose highly regarded golf invitational at Olympia Fields proved an inspiration to the club's director of tennis Wayne Muskievicz and his wife Carol.
"The golf was going on here, so Carol and I went out and met the AD and talked about the possibility of running a tennis tournament," Muskievicz said. "One cold November day, Brad (Dancer, head coach of the Illinois men's team) came out, looked at the courts and said, I think we can do it."
Despite the gloom of that day, Dancer was able to envision last weekend's scene at the now established event, when perfect tennis weather brought out hundreds of spectators. Illini alumni, former players and their families, club members, area high school players, and those connected with the other five schools sending players and coaches to the event, sat in temporary bleachers or lunched on the terrace while watching the matches. Younger children of club members served as ballrunners, giving high fives and collecting autographs while seeing up close the skill level required for Division I college tennis.
The format, like many early fall tournaments, is about playing opportunities, and with four singles and two doubles matches guaranteed, the six courts were in constant use by players from Illinois, Texas, California, Kentucky, Pepperdine and Notre Dame.