Make it a double! Van Deinse nets 2nd ‘King of Hill’ tennis title


James Van Deinse of the Vero Beach Tennis and Fitness Club emerged victorious in the 28th annual King of the Hill Tennis Tournament to benefit the Youth Guidance Mentoring Academy. This is the second KOTH title for Van Deinse, who previously won in 2017.

Tyler Rios of the Magnolia Lakes Club in Port St. Lucie was the runner-up in the competition, which was played in front of a crowd of several hundred fans at the Boulevard Village and Tennis Club.

The pair were awarded a main draw doubles Wild Card into the upcoming Mardy Fish Children’s Foundation’s USTA/ITF World Tennis Tour Pro Circuit Tennis Tournament, being held April 24-30 on Van Deinse’s home turf. They will play their first-round doubles match against world-ranked touring professionals at 6 p.m. April 24.

The other two finalists in the competition were James’ brother, Joseph Van Deinse, also of the Vero Beach Tennis & Fitness Club, and Christian Docter of the Sea Oaks Beach and Tennis Club.

Founded in 1996 by Gigi Casapu, this year’s King of the Hill began Jan. 19 with the Open Division First Round, followed on subsequent Thursdays by the 40’s Semifinal Division, 50’s Semifinal Division, Open Semifinal, 50’s Final, 40’s Final and Open Finals.

The 2023 50’s Division winner was Mario Cobo from the Mariner Sands Country Club, and the 40’s Division winner was Lennart Jonason from the John’s Island Club.

For the past 50 years, Youth Guidance has provided one-on-one and group mentoring programs to children, teens and young adults through its afterschool and summer sessions.

“These programs are focused a lot on life skills, vocational training and academic enrichment,” said Phil Barnes, executive director.

Youth Guidance is in the midst of a $1.5 million Capital Campaign to turn its 62-year-old building into a state-of-the-art facility to house its many mentoring, life skills and workforce development programs for participants ages 5 to 24.

Typical programs for younger children include tutoring and homework help and STEAM (science, technology, engineering, arts, math) curricula while older children also learn bicycle repair, boat mechanics and web design. Life skills include cooking and food preparation, sewing, gardening and agriculture, and money management.

There is also a pre-apprenticeship program where participants can learn trades such as HVAC, welding, plumbing, carpentry and electric, receiving up to six professional certifications upon completion. And more recently, Youth Guidance introduced a parent aid program, where parents receive support in the home environment.

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Photos by Mary Schenkel

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