Memory of local tennis player honored with annual tournament

August 1, 2018 | 11:03 pm

Updated August 2, 2018 | 11:52 am

The 16th Annual Goodfellows Club Luke Woodward Classic tennis tournament will take place at Centre Court August 3-5, 2018. Goodfellows started the tournament in 2002. After Luke’s death from a brain aneurysm in 2003, his parents, Norman and Pam Woodward, were able to merge Luke’s name onto their already-existing tournament. All of the proceeds raised will go directly to the Goodfellows Club of Owensboro which assists local schools with the items necessary to address children’s basic clothing and medical needs.

Luke Woodward was a local tennis player who played on Daviess County’s varsity team for several years and continued playing in college at the University of Missouri. Along the way, he met Max Lile, who played tennis for the University of Oklahoma. Later the two worked together as tennis pros in South Hampton, New York.

Luke was in his last semester at the University of Kentucky School of Law when he died. His friends hope that the common bond of tennis can continue to keep his memory alive. In fact, Max met Ashley Reynolds, one of Luke’s law school classmates and friends from Owensboro, at Luke’s funeral and the two are now married and named their son Luke in honor of their friend.

Of the 85 participants in this year’s tournament, Norman Woodward said that over 25 of Luke’s friends continue to play in the tournament each year to pay tribute to Luke. Several couples travel from out of town to play in this annual tournament, while others are high school friends that still live in Owensboro and continue to play.

Ross Wetzel, one of Luke’s high school friends who returns annually to play, said, “Luke was a good friend. He was one of the kindest guys who always had a smile on his face – even when he would drill you with a backhand shot to the leg in PE class. Honoring his legacy by playing in his memorial tournament is the least I can do, and I know that Luke is having a good laugh at his friends attempting to play tennis in his honor each year.”

Along with the usual bananas and water donated by CRS OneSource, homemade trail mix, cookies, and fruit are brought by several of the Woodwards’ friends and shared with the players. This hometown touch adds a special element for players and their families, as does the incredible work ethic of volunteer, Janie Walther, who coordinates the brackets, T-shirts and food each year. Norman says, “She is very helpful with the tournament. She does so many things.”

Luke’s memory will continue to live on, not only on the tennis court, but through the many children who will receive clothing and emergency assistance through the Goodfellows Club.

The deadline to enter the 2018 tournament was August 1, but you can follow the event on Twitter @LukeWoodwardTC.


August 1, 2018 | 11:03 pm

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