It takes many helping hands to run a summer tennis program, as well as a tournament, and this year, Emma Hubbs is breaking in some new ones.
Hubbs, matriarch of Dixon youth tennis for more than half a century, is once again a fixture this summer at the courts that bear her name. Absent, however, are a few of the assistants who have made the operation run smoothly.
Kimi Wegner first started playing tennis under Hubbs when she was 4 years old. She played each summer, in lessons and in the tournament, until she was too old to compete, then gave lessons and helped with the tournament. She was recently hired as a seventh- and eighth-grade math teacher in Indianapolis.
Lynn Smith started with Hubbs when she was six, and like Wegner, is a lifer. She's helped in one way or another for at least 15 years, and is now an eighth-grade science teacher near Milwaukee.
Evan Knack is another who played for Hubbs as a youngster, and then helped with lessons and/or the tournament for the past 8 years. He's currently working for the city of Dixon.
"I will always miss Kimi, Lynn and Evan, because they've been with me for a long time," Hubbs said. "But now we have the next generation following, and they're just so wonderful."
That crew has been the backbone of the Dixon High School girls and boys tennis teams in recent seasons. Mandy Kent is in her third year working for the summer tennis program; Kayla Wilson is in her second year; while Hayley Kent, Kurt Gale and Matt Kerr are first-year workers.
On Monday, the staff donned cowboy hats while they helped with the Tiny Tots and 6-to-8 division in the Hubbs Classic, as those age groups had a western theme to them.
"It's awesome," Gale said. "You get to have fun with them, see them smile, and you get to see them improve. They get better and they realize it, and that just makes it so awesome."
Smith wasn't involved in the day-to-day lessons this summer, but is still heavily involved with the tournament. She had taken over some of the paperwork involved with the Hubbs Classic in recent years, and Hubbs estimated she did about 80 percent of the legwork leading up to this year's event.
It's a contribution Smith is happy to make.
"A lot of those young kids that I taught are driving now," the 26-year-old Smith said. "It's just fun seeing all of them having fun with tennis, and still working with Emma – she is the tennis guru. She's still here helping all those kids have fun and learn the game."
Hubbs noted her tournament, now in its 23rd year, wouldn't be possible without the efforts of some of her former players who return to help out.
"Before it was easy for them, to just come and play," Hubbs said. "Now they know what it's like to come out and work for 5 or 6 hours at a time. I just have some wonderful help."
9 a.m. – 11 girls singles
11 a.m. – 11 boys singles
1 p.m. – 15 girls singles
3 p.m. – 13 mixed doubles
5 p.m. – 18 boys singles