Tennis tourney keeps memory alive

Photography by Alice Mary Herden

More than six years have gone by since the tragic passing of Nature Coast Technical High School tennis player Simon Toftegaard. But the Nature Coast Tennis Foundation has done its part to keep his memory alive, including this past weekend’s Simon Toftegaard Memorial Junior Tournament at Delta Woods Park.

“We’re always very appreciative of that,” said Irmelin Toftegaard about the foundation’s efforts to memorialize her son. “We are always humbled by that. It’s a special weekend remembering Simon.”

In the summer of 2009, the 16-year-old Toftegaard, who would have been a junior the following school year and the Sharks’ top boys tennis player, was the victim of a fatal accident in which he was struck by an automobile while bicycling during a visit to his native Denmark.

The following January, the NCTF renamed one of its annual tournaments in his honor. The proceeds from the event also go toward a pair of scholarships the foundation awards in Toftegaard’s name. “We remind all the junior players that Simon embodied both athletic and academic values. He was a top student at Nature Coast and a top player at Nature Coast,” NCTF president Phil Zee said. “Our purpose is to hold an athletic tournament and use the money to reward academic achievements.”

The NCTF, which is not associated with the high school barring the same name, is a United States Tennis Association Community Tennis Association, a volunteer arm of the USTA.
In this year’s championship matches, Adrian Pawlowski defeated Dakota Willey in the Boys High School division, 6-0, 6-1. Katherine Moore beat Asziti Chadiynski on the girls’ side, 6-1, 6-1.

At the middle school level, Tony Panella won over Alec Priede, 6-1, 6-4, and Angita Reji downed Sage Tannoia, 7-5, 6-1, to claim the boys and girls titles respectively.

“Even though I always struggle with the fact we’ve gotten to the point where none of these students knew Simon; he was just a great example of what it takes to be a great athlete and great student,” Irmelin Toftegaard said. “I hope they keep that in mind and I’m sure they do.”

Follow Chris Bernhardt Jr. on Twitter @cpbernhardtjr.

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