October 1, 2010 04:15 PM
The 2.5 Florida Section women's team.
By Sue Levine, special to USTA.com

Monica Fude is known to do the splits in moments of great joy for her team, and today certainly qualifies.  It's the first year together for the women in the 2.5 Florida Section, and they made it all the way from Eagle Harbor to the USTA League National Championships in Rancho Mirage, CA.  

The team was thrilled to make it to the National Championships, but the economy being what it is, team members found they needed a little help financing the trip to California.  So Tameka Bezue got busy.  She found out just how much support her team has from the tennis community of Eagle Harbor.

Tameka says it started when she was looking for a gift to bring to the Championships for the opponents.  She went online and found a company that would print up tennis towels with the Eagle Harbor name.  She got some help selling them online for $9 apiece.

Then the team decided to organize a "Tennis Social" the Friday before members headed to the National Championships.   They sent out emails letting friends and fellow tennis players know about the event.  There was a round robin of mixed doubles and people brought covered dishes.  The plan was to make money with a silent auction.

To get donations for the auction, team members wrote a letter explaining why they were trying to raise money, and brought it to local businesses.  They weren't disappointed with the results. Restaurants donated coupons of up to $50.  A landscaping company donated a fishing excursion. A local medical spa kicked in some massages, and a dentist offered teeth whitening.  A local ice cream parlor called "Little Scoops"  even volunteered to throw an ice cream party.  In return, the team included ads for the businesses that donated in the online booklet of coupons. 

Team member Eva Dasher says between the silent auction and the towels, the team thought they might raise enough to pay for a rental car.  They did a lot better than that. The team is still counting up the donations, but it looks like the silent auction pulled in about $2500, and the towel sales added another $500.

It's been a true team effort all the way:  from the ladies swinging the rackets to the community that helped them fund their first trip to the USTA National Championships. Definitely a split-worthy event.