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News / Sports / Clark County Sports

Vancouver tennis community enjoys a visit from James Blake

Former pro player takes part in community day at Vancouver Tennis Center

By Jeff Klein, Columbian sports staff
Published: November 3, 2018, 9:11pm
5 Photos
James Blake hit tennis balls with kids during a community event at the Vancouver Tennis Center on Saturday, Nov. 3, 2018.
James Blake hit tennis balls with kids during a community event at the Vancouver Tennis Center on Saturday, Nov. 3, 2018. (Jeff Klein/The Columbian) Photo Gallery

The dull sound only meant one thing.

Broken string.

Former tennis touring professional James Blake needed a new racket.

Thankfully there were enough folks lining Court 6 at the Vancouver Tennis Center on Saturday morning to lend one out … even if it wasn’t his brand.

“No photos while I’m using this,” Blake said smiling.

While his Dunlop racket sat useless courtside, he continued to warm up with the donated stick for a brief exhibition with the pros at VTC.

It really didn’t matter what racket Blake used on the newly refurbished courts at VTC, the many who came out to watch and play with the former world No. 4 went home happy.

There were kids of all ages taking part in this free community event, something VTC general manager Patrick Dreves said he’d like to see happen on a regular basis now that the United States Tennis Association Pacific Northwest Section operates the facility.

Blake’s appearance was also a local tennis fundraiser. Spots in a private hitting group were auctioned off online with proceeds going toward scholarships and donated court time for kids and adults.

Blake, a member of the United States Davis Cup team that won the 2007 title at Portland’s Memorial Coliseum, took time out for many photos and autographs as well as jumping in to hit with just about everyone at the facility.

“I can still run a bit,” Blake said confidently after tracking down a shot from one of the local players.

Before leaving, Blake sat down for a Q&A session about his tennis career and how others might improve their games or future tennis aspirations.

He spoke about his admiration for Grand Slam champion and Hall of Famer Jim Courier and his work ethic. And about playing college tennis at Harvard. And how young players need to keep hitting balls in order to get better.

After the last photo was taken and last autographed signed, he made one comment as he left the tennis facility:

“Man, I haven’t broken a string in like forever.”