Food, glorious food!

Mary Ann and her team

Mary Ann and her team

Oliver would be happy. No gruel here – nothing but tables of delicious fare made by the volunteers that provide meals to the Cottonwood Tennis Club members and their guests at the five annual tournaments, the three social events with neighboring communities and the closing picnic: a total of over 11,000 individual meals when you include both lunch and breakfasts.

This cornucopia does not happen by itself. It begins with planning the menus down to the last details, inventorying supplies and posting signup sheets for volunteers. “Shopping takes up almost as much time as the food preparation,” says Betty Dunn, the food coordinator for the December Triple-T Tournament, who made daily visits to over five stores, searching for the bargains that would stretch her limited budget.

Mary Ann Hylton, the food coordinator for November’s Bradshaw tournament, purchased and cooked 110 pounds of hamburger. “In addition to the shopping,” confirms her husband, John, “she was up at 5:00 a.m. preparing hard-boiled eggs and gathering together the ingredients for the day. The noise from the kitchen made sleeping in impossible.” By 7:00 a.m., Mary Ann was on site, brewing coffee and arranging the platters of fruit, donuts, deviled eggs and fresh bagels that would greet the players when they arrived for their 8:30 a.m. matches. She was joined by others willing to brave the cold so that the platters could stay filled for the arrival of each new wave of players. The work continued uninterrupted until 4:00 p.m. when the cleanup was finished and it was time to begin shopping and cooking for the following day.

But even the most capable food coordinator could not accomplish this feat without help. Every day, an army of volunteers descends on the kitchen to lend a hand. They peel, wash, cut, mix and stir, eventually serving the giant bowls of food to the participants already lined up to enjoy that day’s offerings. Earlier, a contingent of baking wizards will have delivered pans of their favorite homemade desserts that are, as one member remarked, guaranteed to expand your waistline and shorten your life.

Why would anyone subject themselves to this kind of torture? “It’s the camaraderie,” claims Mary Ann. Betty agrees. “You get to hang out with your friends, to meet new members and there are lots of compliments from members, especially those who understand the work involved.”

Of course, there are always complaints; nothing is perfect. “The worst part of the job is cutting food while wearing over-sized plastic gloves designed for gorillas,” says Betty.

“There’s too much food!” complains Bob Lewis, a man of few words, as he lined up for a second helping.

So, tennis hats off to the food coordinators, both past and present. And a sincere thank you to their tireless assistants on behalf of the always hungry members of the Cottonwood Tennis Club. You are all terrific!

For more information on the Cottonwood Tennis Club and its activities, visit our website at