Tennis players mix it up

Published 6:27 am Monday, March 8, 2010

It wasn’t so much a tennis tournament as it was a reunion.

The annual Woody Mixer tennis tournament brought together a group of Austin High School tennis alumnus Saturday at the Austin YMCA for a day of fellowship.

“It’s good to see a lot of old Austin tennis players,” organizer Josh Bendickson said. “It’s a fun day.”

This was the seventh consecutive year of the tournament. About 17 teams — about 34 total people — competed in the tournament.

Each team had one male and one female team member, and the men used wood rackets, which Bendickson said leveled the playing field. Teams played between two and five games.

“Everybody’s here to win, but in a very casual way,” Bendickson said. “Nobody’s going to go out and not try to win, but it’s really more of a fun atmosphere. We’re playing some music, and it’s just kind of a reason to get together and play some tennis.”

Bendickson, an Austin High School graduate, used to coach tennis in Austin, and has helped organize the event for about seven years.

Many of the participants return each year, and Bendickson said most of the participants are former Austin High School tennis players. Competitors ranged from high school age to people who graduated a few decades ago, Bendickson said.

Jacob Greenman, an accountant with Hormel Foods Corp., returns to Austin every year for the tournament. Greenman lives in Wichita, Kan., and in the past he’s traveled to Austin from Los Angeles for the tournament.

Greenman said the day is a time to see friends, and the tennis is just a bonus.

“A lot of people like to come and socialize and see everybody,” Greenman said. “The tennis is more about laughing and just enjoying the game.”

Greenman graduated from Austin High School in 1999. He played tennis in high school and at Riverland Community College.

Greenman coached with Bendickson when he lived in Austin. While Greenman travels to Austin about once a month, he said the tournament is a good chance for him to see people he people he played tennis with and coached.

“This is my once a year trip that’s always on my calendar,” he said.

Costumes and uniforms are recommended at the tournament. Greenman wore a striped shirt, wristbands and a headband in honor of tennis played Bjorn Borg.

Jessica Astrup has participated in the Woody Mixer about four years. Bendickson was one of Astrup’s coaches when she attended Austin High School.

“It’s kind of a fun tradition just to see a bunch people we don’t see very often and play some tennis,” she said.

“We don’t get back to Austin that often anymore, and it’s about getting a bunch of alumni back together. We don’t have a lot of excuses to play tennis as we get older, so it’s fun to get out there and play.

Astrup is senior at the University of Minnesota studying communications, and she’s applying to pharmacy schools.

Astrup said the tournament was interesting because she hadn’t played tennis since August, and she didn’t practice to prepare for Saturday.

Astrup’s partner was with her brother, Bobby, who is a senior at Austin High School.

“It’s all about having fun, and just meeting other alumni,” she said.

Many of the participants went to someone’s house to play ping-pong Saturday night after the tournament.

Astrup said the group hopes to continue holding the tournament each year.

Results:

Champions: Anna Hebrink / Jack Lynch

2nd Place: Hanna Middlebrook / Rodney Middlebrook

3rd Place: Ashley Bendickson / Josh Bendickson

4th Place: Alex Clasen / Steve Mino

Consolation Champions: Jessica Astrup / Bob Astrup