The Tucker Tournament: 30 years of true love
Players in the August 1980 tournament gathered for a group photo. Photos courtesy of Tucker family
In tennis, love means zero. But at the Mary Tucker Mixed Doubles Invitational, love is the feeling that surrounds the remarkable 30-year-old private tournament held the second weekend of August each summer in Oak Bluffs. Three decades ago at the Tucker family home on Gorham Avenue, family members gathered for friendly competition on the idyllic two-acre property's tennis court. Mary Tucker, then 58 years old, decided to create a formal mixed doubles event. Originally just for immediate family, it soon grew to include friends and more distant relatives, all of whom had played on the court at some point during the season. Over the years players have come and gone, word has spread and competitors have come from as far away as South Africa. Many return year after year for two days of fun and friendly rivalry.
Mary Tucker, founder of the 30-year-old Oak Bluffs tennis invitational, has turned the logistics over to daughter Gretchen Underwood. The 88-year-old matriarch says she still loves to watch all the matches. Photo by Ralph Stewart
Now 88, Mary says she is still delighted to host the event although she stopped playing several years ago due to arthritis. "I do it for other people's enjoyment," she explains, sitting on the sofa in her cozy vintage farmhouse. Looking serene and lovely in lavender linen, Mary says she is content to watch the matches and mingle with guests. This year, 52 players participated in the tournament, with preliminary rounds played on the public courts in Oak Bluffs. Semi-finals and finals are held on the home court.
Mary Tucker may not play tennis anymore, but she is still the heart and soul of the annual August event. Photo by Ralph Stewart
"We couldn't do it without Tommy," Gretchen admits. "He's a miracle worker." Between random pairing of players and arranging of opponents, the matches are generally very competitive - but friendly.
Karla Araujo is a tennis instructor and freelance writer who lives on Martha's Vineyard and in the Florida Keys.