Junior Tennis Players Swing Away at Ruth “Sis” Frank Tournament

Tennis anyone?

More than 30 junior tennis players said “yes” to that question and took part in the first annual Ruth “Sis” Frank tournament over the weekend.

Hosted by the St. John Junior Tennis Association led by Patrice Harley, the Sis Frank Tennis Tournament started on Friday, November 6, and ran through  Sunday afternoon, November 8, at the Cruz Bay courts.

About 36 juniors from throughout the Virgin Islands took part in the three-day double elimination round robin tournament.

While Harley, a retired teacher, has long been a fixture on the local tennis circuit, this was the first time she hosted a   tournament in years.

“This is the first tournament we’re hosting in a while,” said Harley. “We had one back in 2000 and over the years we’ve had clinics also. My dad used to come over from St. Croix every summer and lead the clinics.”

“Then we got involved with Parks and Rec. and they would send someone over to lead the clinics every summer,” Harley said. “Then I started doing classes on my own as I got more confident. And now we’re hosting our first tournament in years.”

The tournament was named in Frank’s honor as a way to thank the long-time resident for years of supporting tennis on St. John, explained Harley.

“Throughout the years, Sis has always supported tennis and the players,” Harley said. “Even when George Lewis was a junior player, she would always make sure that he and the other players had enough money to travel and get to the tournaments they needed to go to.”

“Sis always supported the players both verbally and monetarily,” said Harley. “She doesn’t coach, but she’s a good mentor and is always encouraging the kids.”

A former player herself, Frank was delighted to hear of the tennis tournament in her honor.

“I used to play tennis with Dr. Applegate back when there was one court at Caneel,” said Frank. “I’m very complimented to have the tournament in my name.”

Frank, who founded the St. John School of the Arts and led the esteemed pan bands Steel Unlimited and Steel Unlimited II, has long been involved with youth development.

“I think the tournament means a great deal to the children,” said Frank. “Taking part in these types of things builds confidence and teaches kids how to get along with each other.”

Frank fondly remembered watching George Lewis, a St. John tennis star, when he was a junior player.

“My main star was George Lewis,” said Frank. “When he was a junior tennis player, his mother and I used to go to every single match that he had. Then he was sent to Hawaii and all over the universe to play tennis.”

“He’s still playing and teaching tennis today,” Frank said.

Tennis is great for a child’s mind and body, Frank added.

“It’s a wonderful all-around sport,” she said. “It gets the kids outside and teaches them to compete nicely. Patrice Harley has done a marvelous job with the program and the kids.”

While competition is important, Harley was more concerned that all the competitors had fun.

“By taking part in the tournament, I hope kids walk away with a love of the game,” said Harley. “Winning and losing is secondary. I just want the kids to come out and enjoy playing and meet kids from other schools.”

With students from St. Thomas, St. Croix and St. John facing off across the net, Harley planned to make sure all of the students met each other, she explained.

“Before each match, we’ll have an introduction and the kids will say their names and what schools they attend,” Harley said. “I think it will be a great way for the kids to get to know each other — they already have tennis in common.”

Check next week’s St. John Tradewinds for results of the Ruth “Sis” Frank Tennis Tournament.