Callawassie Island celebrated the grand tradition of Wimbledon, Friday, June 23. Serving up a unique twist on the oldest tennis tournament in the world, Callawassie residents play their own Wimbledon, “Callawassie Style”, on a pair of makeshift tennis courts, overlooking the marsh on the Dogwood golf course's ninth fairway.
This will be the ninth consecutive year that Callawassie Island hosts the event in tribute to the annual grass-court championships! Nine years ago, the Callawassie Island golf courses were closed for renovation when resident Tennis Pro, Bill Hoppe, got the idea for the event. He asked the golf course superintendent at the time about creating grass tennis courts on a fairway, and with his full support the two men proceeded to make this iconic event a reality.
It takes a village to make an event of this caliber come to fruition. Led by Callawassie’s current Golf Course Superintendent, Ryan Watson, the golf course maintenance crew prepares two grass courts on Dogwood #9, setting up nets, painting lines and mowing the grass to the sufficient height. These makeshift courts may not be as compact as true grass courts, which can make play difficult at times as the balls do not bounce nearly as high as they do on traditional grass courts. For those who are used to playing on Callawassie’s six Har-Tru tennis courts, it may take some time adjusting to both the lower and slower speed of play.
Forty people participated in this year’s event and several residents came out to cheer on their favorite players. Even the Queen of England “Callawassie Style” took time out of her busy schedule to make an appearance, gliding across the courts in true royal fashion, halting play momentarily, leaving everyone slack jawed and star struck. In true Wimbledon fashion, players and spectators wear all white clothing just as they do in London. No event is complete without some delicious bites to nosh on. Leave it to Callawassie’s Executive Chef, Jim Spratling, to prepare a spread of traditional Wimbledon fare for spectators to enjoy, including scones, cucumber sandwiches, strawberries and cream and champagne mimosas.
With Hoppe’s vision, and the support of General Manager, Jeff Spencer and his staff, Callawassie Island has differentiated its tennis program from any other in the area.