For the dogs: Wayton Open wraps up competition, makes donations to shelters

Published on Thursday, 22 July 2021 19:00
Written by TYLER HETU


The 14th annual Wayton Tennis Open concluded Sunday, wrapping up with all 156 scheduled matches played with none having to be moved for weather.

A short rain delay on Championship Sunday did not deter a field that had wins across boys, girls, men’s and women’s singles and doubles.

Winning in the men’s A singles match was Kunal Kataria in a three-set win over Dylan Avena (6-4, 6-4, 6-1). Kunal clinched his first singles title, knocking of two-time defending champion Avena in the process.

In the men’s B singles, Loong Voong defeated David Fahey in three straight sets (6-0, 6-1, 6-2) to lock up Voong’s first title.

On the women’s side, Leah Nguyen defeated Alex Rivera (6-2, 3-6, 6-0) for her first title. Rivera was competing in her first tournament.

In the high school boys singles, Mukhil Olinilavan defeated Aryan Singh (4-6, 7-7 [7], 6-2) for his first title. Olinilavan saved six points after trailing 0-6 in the second set tie breaker.

The men’s 45+ singles title went to Ben Doolittle, defeating Jeff Korp (6-0, 6-2) for his second title in the division and his fourth total at the Wayton Open.

In men’s doubles B action, the men’s tandem of David and Cameron Fahey defeated Sean and Tyler Hussey (6-4. 2-6, 7-5) for their first team title. David Fahey had won last year with a different partner.

For the A doubles group, Stefan Joens and Avena knocked off Mark Habek and Eric Henne to capture their first doubles title. Habek and Henne were six-time champs in tournament play.

In the women’s doubles, Stephanie Canales and April Reagan beat Sue Henne and Susan Anderson (4-6, 6-3, 7-6 [4]) for their first official double titles after winning in 2020 on a double walkover.

For the dogs

The Wayton Open tournament, which started in 2007, was originally organized by Southington graduate Matt Wayton as a way for he and his buddies to get together and play tennis

“The tournament started in 2007 as a one day thing to bring back some of my buddies from the high school tennis teams to play a few games. There really was no tournament or anything like it in the area, so I saw a need,” said Wayton, who mentioned the tournament does not have a “marketing budget,” and relies on word-of-mouth advertising. “I’ve always liked organizing things, so I organized a tournament. … Ever since then it’s grown and expanded to multiple weeks. We have t-shirts, trophies, local press coverage, and we also have a charity component that came on later on.”

Since then the tournament has grown dramatically in size, reaching 217 entrants this year for the third highest number since the tournament started . With the rise in popularity within the local tennis community, Wayton saw an opportunity to give the tournament a deeper meaning than playing tennis across two weekends in July.

Previously, The Open gave scholarships to high school students, but Wayton decided to shift the attention to animal rescue charities because of how frequent some groups give out school scholarships.

This past weekend the tournament focused on One More Dog Rescue, Long Island Bulldog Rescue and Thank Dog Rescue as the recipients of donations.

“For the past four years we’ve been giving money to rescue dogs, and this past year we raised $6,000 for rescue dogs. We spread it out between three different rescue charities,” said Wayton. “… Me and my family are big dog lovers. We have a couple rescue dogs of our own and a lot of players like to come out and support dogs. It’s always good to help animals in need, helping with their medical bills and pulling them out of shelters. … We wanted to help the process. We’ve volunteered over the years and thought it was a good charity to help. … We wanted to be unique, and people responded well.”

When asked if he ever expected the tournament to grow as big as it has, Wayton said no, but hopes to keep it growing to help leave a good mark on the area’s tennis community.

“Honestly, no. The first year we had about 20 guys, a bunch of my buddies, ... coming from that, a one day tournament at Recreation Park and very humble beginnings,” said Wayton. “… I’ve been proud of all the growth and grass root efforts. I didn’t really envision getting hundreds and hundreds of people to play in a tournament and raising thousands of dollars but it feels great and is going to be a great legacy to leave for the next generation of tennis players.”

Entering next year, Wayton hopes to see more girl tennis players enter the tournament, and to help grow the tournament even more in both numbers and in charity donations.

Posted in New Britain Herald, General Sports on Thursday, 22 July 2021 19:00. Updated: Thursday, 22 July 2021 19:03.