Concord, NorthWood girls tennis players team up to 'Smash Cancer'

Minutemen, Panthers face off Friday at NorthWood. A year ago the two girls tennis teams combined to donate $2,310 to United Cancer Services of Elkhart County. 

Posted on April 15, 2014 at 7:45 p.m.

NAPPANEE — The inaugural Concord vs. NorthWood "Smash Cancer" girls tennis match last spring was exactly that — a smash — so the rival Minutemen and Panthers are teaming up again to take their swings at an encore.

Even if Concord coach Jan Soward initially had some misgivings about a repeat.

"We had this last year, and then (last fall the Concord boys team) organized a big one of their own," Soward said, alluding to the Minutemen boys actually having two such events close together, "so this is really like three times (or four) in a year. That can make it hard for people to keep giving, but it does seem to be going pretty well."

NorthWood will be the host for this year's go-around when the teams face off Friday, April 18.

Players from the two teams have combined to sell nearly 400 commemorative T-shirts at $10 each, including 233 sold by Minutemen players and 161 sold by the Panthers.

A year ago, the two squads combined to sell well over 500 shirts, more than two-thirds of those sold by Concord.

The shirts are offered in 16 colors, each representing a type of cancer, and the shirts are sported by the players during the match.

"I think the neatest thing is that each girl can invite someone to be introduced with them," Soward said of the activities involved. "It's (typically) someone they know who has beaten cancer or is fighting it or has been affected in some way, and each guest is invited to hit a (ceremonial) first serve."

"It's a fun, exciting event," said NorthWood coach Tif Schwartz, who plays on the same adult travel team as Soward, "and to be able to do it with Jan also makes it nice."

The two coaches decided to organize their inaugural Smash Cancer effort last year after they got the idea during a coaching clinic from the girls team at Delta High School.

The Minutemen and Panthers combined last year to raise $2,310 that they donated to United Cancer Services of Elkhart County. That money came through net proceeds from the T-shirt sales and from passing a bucket during the match.

The teams hope to raise a similar amount this year to donate to the same organization.

Soward said that a limited number of T-shirts may still be available at Friday's match, which starts at 5 p.m.

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