Dozens of young tennis players gathered at the Max Lynn Courts on Wednesday and Thursday for the Happy Joe’s youth tennis tournament.

Children as young as 7 and up to 18 got the chance to spend a couple of summer days honing their hardcourt skills while enjoying the sport with friends.

“Well, of course it’s fun in the sun,” Cindy Rasche said. “But more so, it’s an appreciation for a lifetime sport. People can play from the time that they’re 3 until 90. It teaches them a lot of basic things that you need to function in life, like being on time and being a part of a team, how to cooperate and work with other people.”

Rasche said the young tennis players also were taught technique and sportsmanship, among other things, during the tournament.

“We discuss strategy and analyze their games to help them along,” she said.

Rasche, who is the girls high school tennis coach, said this tournament along with the Mar-Gee Plastics tournament and the Firecracker tournament contributed to Clinton’s success in tennis.

“That’s a big part of our success at the high school,” she said. “Our team has been blessed to be one or two in the MAC for 26 years. A part of that is that these kids come and play in the recreation department program and (these) tournaments. That’s why they end up being good players by the time they get to high school.”

Rasche said this was a great tournament especially for beginners.

“We end up with about 60-70 kids playing tennis in the tournament,” she said. “It’s a tournament where kids who are beginner or intermediate have an opportunity to play their first tournament, right along with kids who are state qualifiers. It’s a good one for new people to get their feet wet.”

Rasche said another good thing about the tournament was that all the kids knew each other.

“I think they’re all very competitive,” she said. “They enjoy the social aspect of it also. They’re all good friends. They’re all having a good time, but they get when it’s time to be an opponent and when it’s time to be friend. They’re very good to each other out on the court as opponents. Then afterwards, they’re the best of friends.”

Rasche wanted to thank Jim McGraw, owner of Happy Joe’s, for sponsoring the tournament for the past two decades.

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