April 11, 2012
Tennis has a storied history in the Queen City. From the Western & Southern Open that brings the best professionals in the sport on the men’s and women’s sides, to the Metropolitan Championship each July that crowns the city’s top amateurs, to a number of interclub leagues that feed our extracurricular calendar, the 40-Love spirit runs deep in our veins. Thus, for those enmeshed in the tennis scene, you may have heard of the Clydesdale Classic, but for others, this might be the first time you are getting the memo.
So here’s the scoop, the Clydesdale Classic, a tournament for heavyweight players, was first conceived in 1991 from a brain trust made up of Ken Munson and the late Dr. Mike Lawhon (former Cincinnati Reds Orthopedic surgeon). Munson is a former football and baseball player who, as many of us can attest, stopped lifting weights as the years passed. “I regrettably contracted ‘Furniture’s Disease.’ That’s when my chest dropped into my drawers,” Munson said.
But seriously, the thought is, for all of the different divisions in tennis–gender, age, ability, there was never a division for weight. “The Clydesdale Classic is just a conscious manifestation for ‘heavy hitters’ to have an opportunity to compete on an equal playing field,” Munson added. An equal but heavy field that is… the doubles teams have to weigh in at a combined weight of at least 425 lbs.
A big component of the tournament is the effort it makes each year to give back to the community. Over the past 20 years, the Clydesdale Classic has raised nearly $500,000 to local Cincinnati non-profits. This year the tournament is proud to be associated with the Andy Caress Melanoma Foundation. Caress was a talented local tennis player who unfortunately lost his battle to melanoma skin cancer in 2010, but the fight to eradicate the disease lives on in his memory. The secondary benefactor is one that hits close to home for Munson. It’s the Prostrate Cancer Awareness Foundation. “Six years and 14 surgeries later, I am blessed to be cancer free,” Munson said.
Craig Boynton (current coach of ATP professional John Isner) and the late Dr. Mike Lawhon
For a tournament that has been going on for 20 years I was curious to know, which, if any, year stands out as the most memorable. In 2005 The Tennis Channel came to Cincinnati to film a full length, tongue-in-cheek, documentary about “The Heavyweight Championship of Tennis.”
Munson admits, “Naturally it was incredibly exciting to be involved in the shooting of the movie, but it was an even bigger kick to watch it for the first time on TV. Listening to tennis analysts Cliff Drysdale, Chris Meyers, and others comment on the significance and competitive tenacity of the players was a real hoot.”
Now we sit on the eve of another Clydesdale Classic, happening this weekend (April 13 and 14th) at the Club at Harper’s Point. Keep in mind, admission for those who want to come out and watch is FREE. Plus, on Saturday there will be live music from The Rumrunners along with a raffle, food, and drink specials!
The way Munson sees it, as long as there are non-profits who need help funding their programs and people who love to play tennis, then hopefully the Clydesdale Classic will never lose its charm, sense of purpose, and uniqueness. We couldn’t agree more.to top ↑