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2010 Tennis Festival of the North

The Festival kicked off Friday night with two Demos and Drills clinics at Life Time Fitness — Eden Prairie. Players could try the latest in tennis equipment while participating in group drills with local teaching pros.

The Festival kicked off Friday night with two Demos and Drills clinics at Life Time Fitness — Eden Prairie. Players could try the latest in tennis equipment while participating in group drills with local teaching pros. Both sessions were sold out and fun was had by all throughout the evening.

Saturday’s events began with a USTA League Tennis Captain’s Appreciation Breakfast with three-time Grand Slam singles champion and 1996 Olympic Gold Medalist Lindsay Davenport. Davenport addressed the captains and answered questions during the breakfast. Also many great prizes were given away as part of the morning, including a pair of tickets to the 2010 US Open, which was won by Dale Collette, and an autographed Lindsay Davenport port won by Lori Dietz.

Next was an opening question and answer session featuring Davenport for everyone attending the Tennis Festival of the North. The 45-minute session covered a variety of topics including her junior career, her professional run, her family life now and the current state and future of tennis. She then took a number of questions from the crowd. The clinic continued on Saturday with sessions ranging on a wide variety of topics from many of the top professionals in the tennis industry including Minnesota native and Wimbledon semifinalist David Wheaton, former WTA champion and Minnesota product Ginger Helgeson-Nielsen; On-Court Off-Court President Joe Dinoffer, Tennis Canada’s Wayne Elderton and many more. There was also a vendor show in which over 40 exhibitors participated and a game zone area for kids and adults.

QuickStart Tennis was featured Saturday at the Mall of America Best Buy Rotunda. Children and adults had the chance to play QuickStart Tennis, the new play format for beginning tennis players ages 5-10, with Davenport. People had the opportunity to play three points against Davenport and she showed many of the younger participants the very basics of tennis. Also participating at the Mall was Navratilova, who stopped by to say hello to the crowd and Davenport, and French Open doubles finalist Jeff Tarango, who also participated on-court. Many local communities showed off their programs, as well as assorted media personalities including KFAN’s Justin Gaard who emceed the event.

Saturday night’s exhibition featuring Davenport, Navratilova, Tarango and Wheaton was the highlight of the weekend as almost 3,000 people filled into the Eden Prairie High School gym to see these great players up-close-and-personal. The first match was a men’s doubles match between Tarango and former Gopher player Ishay Hadish against the Minnesota team of Wheaton and former Gopher player Reven Stephens. Tarango and Hadish took the set 6-3 with some outstanding shotmaking.

Next Davenport and Navratilova took to the court. Both players received standing ovations as they were introduced and the crowd was in awe that two of the greatest tennis players in history were playing right in their backyard. Navratilova and Davenport battled, but luck was on Navratilova’s side this match as she went on to win the match 6-3.

In the finale of the evening, Wheaton and Martina faced Davenport and Tarango in a mixed doubles match with Wheaton and Martina winning 6-3. After the match, all four players addressed the crowd and signed autographs for everyone in attendance.

Prior to the exhibition, about 150 people attended a VIP reception in which all of the players attended and addressed the attendees. Attendees were given the opportunity to have their pictures with Martina and Lindsay (in which they receive them later at the match) and then were entertained by a private hitting session by the players. The attendees also received transporation to and from the reception to the match, food and drink and sat in either chairback seating along the court or in a reserved section.

Navratilova opened Sunday’s activities with a highly-entertaining and personal sit-down interview for the clinic attendees. Formerly of the Czech Republic and now a United States citizen with dual citizenship, she is arguably the greatest women’s tennis player in history, winning 18 Grand Slam singles titles, 31 Grand Slam women’s doubles titles (an all-time record) and 10 Grand Slam mixed doubles titles. Navratilova is one of just three women to have accomplished a career Grand Slam in singles, women’s doubles and mixed doubles and she holds the open-era record for most singles titles (167) and doubles titles (177). She and doubles partner Pam Shriver won 109 consecutive matches at one point and won all four Grand Slam titles in 1984.

The Minnesota High School Coaches and the North Dakota Tennis Association also met during the weekend.