Tennis to Table: Linfield serves up a sport-inspired feast
Those attending Tennis to Table at the Linfield's tennis courts found a day of instruction followed by a chance to celebrate their love of tennis and food at the Brooks Winery, where they enjoyed food fit for Wimbleton champions prepared specially by Brooks' Chef Abby McManigle. Before the feast started it time to toast the day and each other. Photos by Rusty Rae
Ben Belletto and Bryce Parmelly discovered the perfect combination to feed the passion of tennis players and foodies. Their Tennis to Table program combines seven hours of tennis lessons with the scrumptious cuisine of the Yamhill Valley. “My favorite things to do: play tennis and eat,” said Sherie Briggs, one of nine players attending the program held at Linfield College and Brooks Winery in late July. This is the first foray into event tennis for Belletto and Parmelly. The former is the head men’s tennis coach at Linfield College. The latter leads the women’s program at Willamette University in Salem. Friends for nearly 20 years, the two thought this would be an ideal way to put people together who enjoy the sport of tennis and food for a special day and evening. “Tennis is a very social game — people who play it love to get together after the game and talk about their play — enjoy their favorite beverage or a meal,” noted Belletto, who begins his fourth year as head coach at Linfield this fall. The event evolved from a conversation Belletto had with the co-head coaches of the Wildcat womens’ tennis program, Lisa Macy Baker and Carl Swanson. “Whitman has produced several successful events around their tennis program and we thought a summer tennis program that emphasized the bounty of foods in the Yamhill Valley would promote both the sport and our area,” he said. They partnered with R&R Culinaire and Brooks Winery. R&R provided the lunch and Brooks the meal that concluded what most considered a sublime day. First, however, came the tennis. Belletto and Parmelly were on top of their teaching games, guiding participants, regardless of experience, through a series of drills designed to sharpen their skills. “Everyone was open and friendly, and the day was really well-organized. We worked on the whole game — physical and mental. I think the teaching style really suited most of us,” Briggs noted. “The guys pointed out what most tennis players do in certain scenarios and gave us drills that helped to cement the lessons so we can take them to the court in our next matches.” But the food proved the glue for the event. It started with Culinaire’s lunch — salads of local greens and fruits with blueberry bars for dessert, which were tasty, healthy, and provided energy for the afternoon session. Dinner, however, the pièce de résistance, was compliments of Brooks Winery. A total wine and food experience, including a tour of the facility, tastings and a meal fit for Wimbledon champions. “The scallop salad that Chef Abby opened with was the absolute best I have ever tasted,” Belletto said. Briggs added, “I thought I was going to have to go off my diet — but the food was so healthy — and all of it on my diet. The steak at Brooks was just out of this world.” So good was the food and wine pairing for Briggs, she took home a couple bottles of Brooks to remember the day. “There’s a comfort level that comes from shared experiences — of tennis and cuisine. It creates a special energy and it was really wonderful to see that happen,” Belletto said. With the success of Tennis to Table, Belletto and Parmelly are already planning additional events.
You can find more information on future camps at www.balancetennis.net.