BY JUSTIN MITCHELL
The third annual Bill Van Lieshout Tennis Classic (BVLTC) took place July 11-13, 2014 in Oshkosh. This adult charity doubles tournament honored Bill’s legacy and raised more than $6000 to maintain the Bill Van Lieshout Tennis Center at Oshkosh North High School.
Bill coached at Oshkosh North High School for more than 20 years. During his career, he sent players to more than 20 consecutive state tournaments, coached a state championship doubles team in 2002, and was named Wisconsin’s High School Coach of the Year in 2007. He also is a member of the Wisconsin Tennis Hall of Fame.
When demographic and economic changes threatened the future of tennis at Oshkosh North, Bill began raising funds to renovate and expand the crumbling six-court complex. After a decade of hard work, his efforts culminated in the opening of a new eight-court facility at the high school in 2009. That same year, the complex was awarded the prestigious “Facility of the Year” award from the USTA/Midwest Section.
In 2010, an overflow crowd watched as the new facility was named the Bill Van Lieshout Tennis Center – the same year in which Bill was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. Bill continued coaching and led his Boys’ Doubles team to a fifth-place finish at State in 2011. He also continued raising funds in order to add lights to the new facility. Bill passed away in June 2011. The BVLTC tradition began in the summer of 2012. In three years the event has raised over $15,000 for the North tennis complex that bears his name.
This summer was the most successful Open tournament in the brief history of the BVLTC. Bobby Hagenow of Manitowoc took the Men’s Open crown, pairing with Lukas Waak of Valparaiso University to defeat Scott and Andy Wall of DePere 6-2, 6-2 in the final. Graduating Titan Morgan Counts paired with incoming first-year UWO player Bailey Saigen to win the Women’s Open title against Mary Catherine and Margaret Faller of De Pere 7-6, 6-4. The Mixed Open final saw Hagenow add another title to his resume. He teamed with current Roncalli star Lauren Piaskowski to defeat Counts and former Titan Nate Kilsdonk 6-4, 6-2 in an entertaining match. All three finals featured fantastic tennis played by current or former collegiate players – something that certainly left Bill smiling down upon his courts!
The 4th Annual BVLTC will be held at North on July 10-12, 2015. Please contact tournament director Spencer Jones with any questions about play or sponsorships! ν
Justin Mitchell is the Editor of the Oshkosh Scene