The Monmouth-Independence Fourth of July Tennis Tournament hopes to attract a large turnout.

MONMOUTH/INDEPENDENCE — Patty Youngren has been a part of an annual tradition for more than three decades — the Monmouth-Independence Fourth of July tennis tournament.

“I moved here in 1985. I played against Mary Christensen in my first competition,” Youngren said. “She and Phil Schroeder, who ran the tournament at the time, crushed my partner and I. Mary has become a lifelong friend.”

Now entering its 43rd year, Youngren, who will help run the tournament with Paul Hirt and Ron Warkentin, are hoping others experience what Youngren discovered about tennis — that playing the sport can lead to relationships that span decades.

This year’s tournament will take place July 2 and 3 at Central High School and Western Oregon University.

Brackets are available for singles, doubles and mixed doubles play. There are also different categories based on skill level, so no matter if you fancy yourself the next Novak Djokovic or have barely picked up a racket for the first time, the tournament offers a chance to hit the court.

“It would be great to have new players out,” Youngren said. “Tennis is leveled into different flights, so a new player isn’t trying to strike a hundred mile an hour serve.”

Organizers hope to see a reverse in a recent trend, which has seen fewer players turn out.

“Tennis has seen a drop in competitive play in the last several years,” Youngren said. “People shift in how they spend their time. I’m hoping the high school kids get out and practice tournament play. It’s fun to see them competing and mixing together offseason. One couple who has played together from Corvallis for several years calls the tournament their little secret. Hopefully, we’ll have enough turn out to make it enjoyable.”

Sign-ups for the tournament are due by noon on June 29. And come Fourth of July weekend, be ready for two days full of tennis, regardless of the weather.

“We have learned that we should be flexible with the draws, the weather, etc.,” Youngren said. “We have learned that people like to play in two events, but don’t like to play in three or more rounds. We hope to limit play to two matches in any given day, unless opponents agree to a different set up.”

All participants must bring a can of balls. Cost is $15 for singles and $25 for doubles. All proceeds from the tournament will go to the promotion of community tennis and Central High’s boys and girls tennis teams.

For many of the participants, the mix of supporting the community and getting a chance to take part in a shared love of tennis has helped make the Monmouth-Independence Fourth of July tennis tournament one tradition worth coming back to again and again.

“Tennis is a wholesome way to get to know your neighbors,” Youngren said. “Tennis is something the whole family can do. It’s a fun experience because of the community of tennis players. Many players have played in this tournament for a number of years. It’s great to get together. It’s also a great time for newcomers because it is low-keyed.”

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