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July 12, 2005 > 9th Annual Betsy Gravett Tennis Tournament: More than just tennis

9th Annual Betsy Gravett Tennis Tournament: More than just tennis

by Venkat Raman

Over the years, most of us learn to cope with adversity; however, few can truly cope with what may be the most dreaded obstacle of all: cancer. The cure for cancer is still a dream but medicine is furiously working to make it a reality. Early detection is critical; there is a hope that the malignant growth can be kept at bay. However, as with everything, there is no certainty.

Life was peaceful for Betsy Gravett, a soft-spoken tennis pro who taught at the Mission Hills Tennis Club (now known as the Club at Mission Hills) years ago. Everything changed on December 5, 1994, a date etched in her memory, when she was diagnosed with a malignant brain tumor. "They gave me a year to live," recalled Gravett.

Naturally, treatment alternatives were explored and tested. Shaped beam surgery, a form of radiation therapy, was established as the best alternative for her and she responded well. Betsy lived through the nightmare for over 10 years and is thankful for the effectiveness of the treatment she is receiving and has resumed teaching tennis.

In addition to the psychological trauma of dealing with what may appear to be a death sentence, there is a financial trauma facing cancer patients as well. Betsy explains that cancer patients, in the process of trying experimental treatments, may need to foot the bill for purchasing drugs if the treatment is not approved for clinical trials. There are also other expenses incurred by friends and family to provide care for the patient.

Betsy's friends from the club put together a fundraiser raising $6,000 in its first year. She realized that if she needed help, others would too. Fundraising efforts continued in the ensuing years and were channeled into the Betsy Gravett Foundation to help needy cancer patients and their families. The foundation has grown since its inception collecting $155,000 benefiting over 35 families.

Families can request support from the foundation and applications are reviewed for grants. One applicant who was a cancer patient, passed away leaving her family with a loss of income which would have provided for education of their three children. The foundation granted money to each child to help defray college costs. "We had a situation where a patient's daughter moved from New York to here to help her, and we paid for the move," Betsy said.

The foundation's main fundraising event is an annual summer tennis tournament. It was started in 1997 by Betsy's good friend Kim Ferrier who sought to rally support from the community to help Betsy. What began as a women's doubles tournament, has come to include men as well, gaining popularity among the club members and friends. Participation in the tournament is open to members and non-members alike, and the cost of registration includes dinner. As tournament materials are donated, nearly all funds raised go directly to families in need. Although this is a doubles tournament, players registering without a partner will be matched with one. If tennis is not your cup of tea, you can simply enjoy the dinner (at a reduced cost), or donate money to the foundation. A silent auction will be held at the event. A stadium blanket with the tournament logo can be ordered when you register. All tournament entry fees are tax deductible.

Men's and women's doubles teams at 2.5, 3.0, 3.5, 4.0, and 4.5 levels are eligible to participate. Registration for the tournament closes July 15. The entry fee of $75 includes player gift, breakfast, lunch, and Sunday dinner. Entry forms can be downloaded at

9th Annual Betsy Gravett Tennis Tournament
Saturday & Sunday, July 23 & 24
The Club at Mission Hills
10 East Las Palmas Ave., Fremont
(510) 656-2250

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