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Low tennis turnout

August 5, 2013 - Burt Angeli
Is tennis on the decline?

Entry numbers from last weekend’s Michigan-Wisconsin Tennis Tournament in Escanaba would seem to indicate so.

Only 95 players entered the 66th annual tournament, a drop of 25 percent from last year, according to director Dennis Lueneburg.

"It was really down with the youth and women's divisions," he told Denny Grall of The Daily Press, noting only three women entered, one in Class A and two in Class B singles, and only 14 men entered Class B singles.

At one time, there were more than 200 entrants, then it fell to 150.

"About 120 has been the average," said Lueneburg. "A lot of late entries came in to even get it to 95. It is hard to get women to compete."

Lueneburg, coach of Escanaba High School's successful girls team and conducts annual summer clinics for youth and adults, said "there is an unwillingness to work at tennis. They will do clinics but they do not apply it on the court.

"I don't know what to do to light the fire. It is not an easy sport. It does take a lot of time to get the feeling of stroking the ball and it takes time to play disciplined tennis. Some people don't want to put the time in."

Another obstacle, according to Grall, may be felt by the upcoming elimination of the EHS boys tennis program due to a budget cut, which has also claimed girls gymnastics for the 2013-14 school year.

Lueneburg hopes the sport undergoes a renaissance in the near future and people "discover it is a good life-long sport. This place used to be a hangout for kids, there would be 15-20 here every night. I think the sport takes a little bit more work than they think it does."

Kingsford hosts a U.P. adult tourney this weekend. Here's hoping for a great turnout of participants.



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