LAKEWOOD RANCH — The 2013 Dick Vitale Lakewood Ranch Intercollegiate Clay Court Classic hits close to home for Timmy Berg.
And it’s not because the Cardinal Mooney High alum and Bates College senior grew up minutes away from the tennis courts at the Lakewood Ranch Athletic Center, where the tournament will be held.
Berg has a personal connection to The V Foundation for Cancer Research and its mission to find a cure for cancer.
Berg was diagnosed with Rhabdomyosarcoma, a type of cancer in which the cancer cells are believed to arise from skeletal muscle progenitors, when he was in the eighth grade.
Prior to his diagnosis, Berg noticed his color vision was a little off balance, so his parents made him an appointment with his eye doctor. Shortly thereafter, Berg learned of the cancer behind his left eye.
“It was frustrating,” Berg says. “It was scary (at first).”
Berg soon began treatment for his cancer and relied on his family for support.
Over the course of his treatment, Berg, who has been an avid tennis player since he was about 9 years old, still managed to get out on the court on occasion.
Now, nearly 10 years later, Berg is cancer free and preparing to return home to Lakewood Ranch from his college in Lewiston, Maine, to compete in the Dick Vitale Lakewood Ranch Intercollegiate Clay Court Classic for the first time.
“It means more in the sense that we’ve been involved with The V Foundation as a family,” Berg says. “It’s cool to be able to play in one of the events hosted by them. They do a great job of fundraising and for cancer research in general. It’s cool to be a part of it. It’s a great organization.”
The annual tournament will be held Nov. 8 to Nov. 10, at the Lakewood Ranch Athletic Center. Admission to the tournament is free.
This year’s tournament features 18 men’s and women’s teams from across the country, including Florida, Duke, Notre Dame, the defending national champion University of Virginia men’s team and the University of Memphis women’s team, which won the event the last two years.
“I’m looking forward to the competition,” Berg says. “We’re Division III, and we’re going to be playing against Division I teams. So it’ll be fun to see how we match up.”
Berg will compete in both men’s singles and doubles tournaments, but he admits he doesn’t have a preference on the court.
“I just take it day by day and go with whatever is feeling good,” he says.
Play will begin at 9 a.m. Nov. 8 with the men’s and women’s first- and second-round singles and doubles consolation rounds. Tournament matches will continue throughout the day. Happy hour will begin at 5:30 p.m. Wrist bands will be available for purchase for $20 ($7 for individuals under 21), which includes unlimited beer and wine, appetizers and live music.
The tournament will continue throughout the day Nov. 9; final-round matches are scheduled for Nov. 10.
A portion of the proceeds from the tournament will benefit The V Foundation for Cancer Research.
Following the Dick Vitale Lakewood Ranch Intercollegiate Clay Court Classic, Berg will return to Bates College, where he will prepare for the second half of his senior season.
As a sophomore, Berg was named First Team All-NESCAC in singles after moving up from the No. 3 spot to No. 1 singles, in which he posted an impressive 16-9 record.
“I’d really like to get to nationals,” Berg says. “I’ve never gone, so hopefully this will be the year.”
Contact Jen Blanco at [email protected]bserver.com.