Players and Coaches Nancy Van Winter and Greg Overkamp are first time participants
When the Special Olympics National Games take place in Princeton, NJ, June 14-21, Maryland and in particular Montgomery County, will be well represented on the tennis courts for the very first time. This nationwide competition is a major annual event that brings together thousands of athletes from all 50 states to compete in 14 different sports including tennis.
Maryland’s tennis team, under the leadership of Coaches Nancy van Winter and Greg Overkamp, is well represented by gold medal competitors from Montgomery, Howard, Anne Arundel and Baltimore Counties. Among the five athletes and two unified partners from Montgomery County are the state’s dominant doubles team of Al Richardson and Scot Gerson, who have been competing together for seven years. Gerson, who is now a 17-year-old senior at Bethesda Chevy Chase High School, started volunteering for Special Olympics Maryland Montgomery (SOMO) before the age 10 and became the youngest coach/mentor shortly thereafter.
Competing in traditional doubles competition are identical twins Mark and Brian Salewskis, the county’s answer to the Bryan brothers. Playing at the highest doubles level, they enter the competition at the top of their game with four consecutive gold medals. Al, Brian, and Mark will also all be competing in singles. Joining them will be Bijan Bagheri, the team’s singles specialist, who will also be playing mixed doubles with Howard County athlete Meaghan Hyer, the state’s top rated female Special Olympics tennis player. In addition, Gaby Nugent will be competing in short court doubles with his partner Joe Richardson.
There are no fees charged to athletes who participate in local Special Olympics programs or the national games. SOMO’s tennis program is made possible through the sponsorship of the Montgomery County Tennis and Education Foundation (MCTEF) and its affiliate, the Montgomery County Tennis Association (MCTA) as well as fundraising and individual donations. Thus far the team has reached only 29% of its anticipated fundraising goal. Any contributions will be greatly appreciated, distributed among the entire team, and will be used to defray expenses for food, lodging, equipment, and uniforms for state team athletes.
Be sure to visit the Montgomery County fundraising page.
Donations can be made to the general county, or to specific athletes, though will used to support the entire team.
For more information about the team and volunteer opportunities, contact Greg Overkamp: firstname.lastname@example.org.