Hacker’s Ball Tennis Returns!

By Justin Mitchell

Michael Swanson and Natalie Lenz had better be getting out the rackets and launching serve after serve, because it is their only hope to defend their title in what has widely been recognized as one of the closest and most intense finishes in the history of Oshkosh Hacker’s Ball.

According to 2nd place finishers Mitchell and Hoefferle, “Swanson and Lenz, you’re going down!”

The heat is rising as the 2014 Hacker’s Ball Tourney date has been set for July 12, 2014.  The goal for this doubles tourney is 32 teams, which would be more than a 100% increase in the number of teams.  This means that all of you local tennis folk need to climb out of the living room and into the fierce battlegrounds of the Hacker’s Ball.

The Hacker’s Ball division is prime for tennis players of middle and elder ages as well as high school and non-amazing college players.  As a coed tourney, any combinations of family work.  Basically, if you play tennis, you have no excuse not to join this fun community event.

Entry fee is $50.00 ($25 per person), which guarantees at least 3-4 match-ups.  Each player in the Hacker’s Ball division will receive a $15.00 gift card to Beckets Restaurant, who is serving as an official unofficial sponsor of the Hacker.

To register for the Hacker’s Ball Tournament, contact event director Spencer Jones at or 612-741-6894.

The Hacker’s Ball is part of the Bill Van Lieshout Tennis Classic, which boasts players from across the Midwest as a USTA-sanctioned tournament the fully weekend of July 11 – 13.  The event is a fundraiser to support the beautiful tennis courts at Oshkosh North High School.  The Hacker’s Ball division was added for locals who wanted to play a good tournament and support the cause, but who were not at the level of a USTA game.

Bill Van Lieshout served as coach of the boys and girls tennis teams at Oshkosh North for over 20 years, and dedicated many years to developing local youth tennis programming. In the early 2000s, demographic and economic changes threatened the future of tennis at Oshkosh North, and the courts were in serious need of repair.  Bill diligently worked to secure funding to maintain the courts and the program, and was so successful that a brand-new eight court facility was able to be constructed at Oshkosh North.

Bill’s peers across the state named him High School Coach of the Year in Wisconsin in 2007. The Oshkosh North courts were opened in 2009 and received the prestigious “Facility of the Year” Award from the USTA.  In 2010, a standing room-only crowd watched as the new facility was named the Bill Van Lieshout Tennis Center – the same year in which Bill received a shocking diagnosis of pancreatic cancer.  In 2011, Bill passed away, and the Bill Van Lieshout Tennis Classic proudly honors his legacy with this annual tournament.ν

Oshkosh Scene Editor Justin Mitchell played in the 2013 Hacker’s Ball, only to finish 2nd.  He blames former Scene designer Michael Hoefferle, who was fired shortly after his disappointing showing.  They don’t talk anymore, except to assert with certainty their victory in 2014.


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