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EDWARDSVILLE – Any successful organization needs to have a good group of volunteers behind it. Volunteers who make the arrangements, do the behind-the-scenes activities and generally keep things running smooth.

The recent USTA Edwardsville Futures tennis tournament, presented by the EGHM Foundation, is no exception. For the tournament, volunteers served as ball boys and girls, housed participants and helped with the overall operation of the event.

Coordinating the volunteers for housing players was Sharla McGinnis of Edwardsville, who organized the volunteers who helped house several of the players during the event.

“I'd been doing volunteer activities for a few years at Edwardsville High,” McGinnis said. “Coordinating the housing for the players and volunteers is a great experience. It gives everyone a chance to learn from each other and to form a bond, especially with players from other countries.

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“It's really helped; several of the families that have hosted players stay connected with them on social media," McGinnis said. "It's a really interesting experience for everyone.”

The players who have been hosted by the families appreciate the hospitality afforded to them. “The fact that families are willing to host players means a lot to them,” McGinnis said. “It helps them save money, of course, but it also gives them a chance to see what we're all about here in the Edwardsville area.”

One such volunteer host was Tracy Cook of Edwardsville, who hosted a pair of Australian players, Harry and Eddie Bourchier of Hobart, Tasmania; one of the things her daughters Marissa and Lauren did with them was take them to a St. Louis Cardinals game against the Cincinnati Reds during a tournament off-night.

“They were both familiar with the Cardinals, but one of them had never seen a baseball game,” Cook said. “They were both really excited about going to a Cardinal game, going to Ballpark Village and seeing downtown St. Louis.

“I love hosting players and really enjoy it," Cook said. "It's a great learning experience and I'm planning on doing it again next year.”

“It's a wonderful experience,” said Felix Corwin of Milwaukee, who took part in the tournament. “There's some down time during a tournament like this, so it's great to be around people like there are here. It's a fun time and you get to meet some really great people.

“It's a really well-run tournament here and I'm really enjoying it here," said Corwin. "Getting to stay with people like I have here really helps make it a fun experience.”

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Edwardsville Futures Tennis Tournament