Ralph and Mary Wilson Friendship Cup
The Wilson Friendship Cup is organized and hosted by the National Senior Women’s Tennis Foundation and made possible by generous contributions from the Ralph C. Wilson, Jr. Foundation. It occurs every two years and has historically taken place in Portschach on Lake Worthersee in Austria, where you are treated to magnificent views of the Italian Alps and aqua water. It is one of the best things about being an NSWTA member and unless you are of a certain age, you probably don’t even know about it!
The philosophy behind the Wilson Friendship Cup is to celebrate women who have put themselves on the line competing in tournaments. It is not about the best. Players are selected in a lottery, so if you are lucky enough to be 75 or older and belong to the NSWTA you have a chance to take part in this wonderful competition. Players are only invited for one year, so each competition celebrates all new ladies, and new friendships being made. Over 270 women age 75 and older from all over the globe have participated. It is always organized before an International tournament and all the players are invited to stay on and play this tournament as well, and their room and board will be included if they do so. It used to be before the European Championships, and this year it was before the Austrian Champions. Because of the Friendship Cup many women who have competed for years have had the opportunity to play on a team competing internationally.
The United States Team is represented by (left to right): Jane Pang, Ann Hunt, Charleen Hillebrand, Teri Eggers, Helga Lukacsy, Jacquie van Haelst, Sheila Weinstock, Bonnie Champion, Robbie Dimond, Dorcas Miller, Judy Levering, and Kathie Metering.
2018 Mary and Ralph Wilson Friendship Cup
by Ann Hunt
The Wilson Friendship Cup pits a USA team of 12 Senior players against a corresponding International team. To qualify for the Cup you need to have played in one USTA Category 1 National Tournament and one other Sanctioned Tournament in the previous year. Members of the International team merely have to have played in tournaments.
When we arrived in Portschach we were welcomed with a Champagne Reception and Dinner. The next day we had a meeting of both the USA and International players where we got to know each other, talking about where we were from and our backgrounds. I will say it was an eclectic group of ladies from all over the world. The International team consisted of six players from Australia, two from Germany, one from England, one from France, one from Sweden and one from the Ukraine. A captain was chosen for each team, Judy Levering for the US and Felicity Thomas for the International team. Their task was to develop a lineup for both singles and doubles matches.
The following day everyone played a singles match against her assigned opponent and at the end of the day the USA team led 8 to 4. The next day was doubles, where we swept the International team 12-0. Despite the score the matches were competitive and thoroughly enjoyable. All play was on red clay, which can take a little getting used to as well as turning your shoes and socks pink!
On the fourth day we were treated to a bus tour of the region, visiting beautiful places around lake Worthersee. Every day we had wonderful breakfasts and dinners at the Werzer hotel while we sat with our opponents making new friends. Many of us stayed to play in the Austrian European Open so we had plenty of time to get to know each other and enjoy the camaraderie. Many thanks to Anne Moore, the program director, who spent every moment of her day making sure things ran smoothly for us all. We all appreciated it.
Unfortunately, you can only participate in this event once, so it truly is the chance of a lifetime.