By JJ Yang
Moaning and grunting to keep pace, UC Santa Cruz junior tennis player Justin Woodjack ran the ball down left and right across the baseline of the court. Playing in the singles finals of the RH Phillips Slug Open Tennis tournament, Woodjack was determined to win the title. Standing opposite Woodjack was 39-year-old Hunter Galloway.
With sweat on his brow, Woodjack surveyed the court. Eyeing a special corner of the box, he let out a big groan as he hit the ball. The ball whipped over the net and landed about two inches left and out of bounds.
"It was fun," Woodjack said after losing the game. "My opponent was running down all the serves and volleys I had to offer. He was tough."
Local tennis players came to campus this past weekend to participate in the tournament, a two-day fundraiser for the UCSC men’s tennis program.
"It’s an open tennis tournament so all skill levels are welcome," UCSC men’s assistant tennis coach Bryce Parmelly said. "We attract highly skilled players from and around the Santa Cruz area, so it’s a good real-time experience for our players."
Woodjack’s opponent, Galloway, outlasted 64 other singles players to take the singles crown. Galloway, a professional tennis player and the owner of a tennis club in Lafayette, explained his joy in participating in the tournament.
"I wanted to mix it up with the lads," Galloway said. "Playing with kids half my age was difficult. These kid are tough."
About 200 people registered for the tournament, including Los Gatos resident Thomas Brinkoff.
"I like to support the local colleges," Brinkoff said, decked out in full tennis gear while preparing for a doubles finals showdown. "It’s a great tournament that gets my competitive juices flowing."
Even as an accomplished professional, Galloway expressed admiration for Slug tennis.
"Back when I was playing college tennis at UC San Diego, we had an intense rivalry with the Slugs," Galloway said. "Every time we would play, I would marvel at how well-coached they were."
Galloway added, "I came down to support [UCSC] coach Bob Hansen. He’s the best Division III coach in the country and although I never played for him, he’s like my coach. I come out ever year to support this great program and this great coach."
The tournament was seen as a success by all parties involved.
"It was a great experience for our players," Parmelly said. "I’ve seen our kids elevate their games to new heights."