SOUTHINGTON — The Wayton Open is in full swing at Southington High School.
Thank Dog Rescue is the main beneficiary for the third straight year for the 12th annual community tennis tournament.
The action began over the weekend and tournament director Matt Wayton said four dog rescue places were on hand on Saturday for the opening day.
“We have 12 divisions in our 10-day tournament with all of the proceeds going to rescue dogs,” Wayton said.
There are 180 entrees, about the same as last year.
“I’m feeling pretty good about the tournament,” Wayton said. “People are having a good time and we have had a lot of good matches. There are also players coming from all over the state and some out of state. It’s a good mix of familiar faces and new faces.”
Wayton said the team has players of all different skill levels on the court, nearly all of the matches are held at Southington High School. With dry weather in the forecast, the matches are expected to remain on schedule.
“I have the scheduling down flat after doing this for over a decade,” Wayton said. “It was great having no rain the first weekend. Everyone plays that weekend and we use the days during the week to set up the semifinals and finals. With the weather being what it is, our players will be able to have some days off.”
Last year, Wayton gave a check for $2,100 to Thank Dog after raising $1,000 in 2017.
“I still enjoy running this tournament and I hope to keep it going for many years to come,” Wayton said. “Raising money for dogs is a big motivator for me. I’m constantly telling players to have friends and family to join. Every entry means more money I can give to the dogs.”
There were more than 40 dogs from four organizations at the opening Saturday of the tournament. In addition to Thank Dog, there were Brass City Rescue Alliance, Double Dog Rescue and Perfect Imperfections. Wayton said that a few applications for adoption were filed on Saturday.
Wayton said he’s had non-players donate money for the cause.
“Help comes from where you least expect it,” Wayton said. “At the tournament, a bunch of people came up to me and handed me money or wrote me a check for the dogs on the spot. My goal is to break what we won last year.”
The action runs all week and will conclude on Sunday with all of the championship matches.
“That’s when the top players shine,” Wayton said. “Those are some high-quality matches. The top people have made it through four or five matches. It’s usually a lot of fun with bragging rights and a trophy on the line. It’s pretty special, you get to say you are the best player in the division and some divisions have as many as 50 players.”