Five years ago, three Jacobs tennis players came to Golden Eagles coach Jon Betts with an idea. It was shortly after Betts’ son, Henry, was diagnosed with muscular dystrophy.
The three players – Morgan Vachio, Dena Kontos and Emma Nickoley – wanted to start a fundraising event for Henry.
“It’s pretty overwhelming to have that kind of support from our team,” Betts said. “The whole program has meant so much to us. Those players in particular have really gone above and beyond to support our family and be big sisters for our kids. It really meant a lot to all of us.”
Once again, the Jacobs tennis courts will host Hit for Henry this weekend for Henry Betts, who now is 5.
The event features a one-hour clinic Saturday, high school boys and girls tournaments Saturday and adult men’s and women’s tournaments Sunday. The clinic is for all ages, a racket is not necessary to play, and players can register for the clinic the day of the event.
The deadline to register for the tournaments has passed, but anyone interested can email firstname.lastname@example.org to see whether there are spots available.
All proceeds go to Henry and his fight against muscular dystrophy. Muscular dystrophy is a condition marked by progressive weakening of the muscles. Henry has used a wheelchair since he was 2.
Henry also has inspired the annual Henry’s Hustle 5K on Thanksgiving Day, which is organized by Kopf Running in Lake in the Hills.
Betts said he and his wife, Stephanie, were surprised when his now former players first organized Hit for Henry a few years ago.
"We were blown away that they found the time to do it once, and they’ve continued to make it work,” Jon Betts said. “It’s really been amazing.”
More recent Jacobs tennis players Riley Rowan and Kylie Skepnek also have helped organize the event in recent years.
The Betts family lives in McHenry. Jon and Stephanie also have two daughters. Jon Betts has coached the Jacobs girls tennis team since 2005 and has been the Golden Eagles’ boys coach since 2013. Before that, he was the boys tennis coach at Hampshire. He also teaches at Liberty Elementary School in Carpentersville.
“It’s also become a kind of a reunion,” Jon Betts said. “So many former players and families come out, whether they’re playing or just stopping by to say hi and see Henry and catch up. It’s really been special for us.”