Megan Nathanson, a 2016 graduate of Scarborough High who is coming off a women’s singles victory in the Maine Tennis Association Open earlier this month, wasn’t planning to play in this weekend’s 28th edition of the Betty Blakeman Memorial.

It’s not that Nathanson doesn’t enjoy the state’s biggest tournament; quite the contrary.

“The vibe is really cool,” she said. “It’s a really big tournament for a special cause but also a very competitive tournament.”

Nathanson is the tournament’s first intern, working under the auspices of Cancer Community Center of South Portland. Last year the tournament raised $20,000 for the Center, which is in the process of merging with the Dempsey Center in Lewiston.

Since its inception, the tournament has raised more than $250,000 for non-profits related to cancer treatment, research and care. Eric Blakeman, son of the tournament namesake, said this year’s event already surpassed $21,000.

Nathanson is a sport management major at Nichols College in Massachusetts, where she played second and third singles this spring on a team that won the Commonwealth Coast championship and the school’s first victory in the NCAA tournament. The Bison finished 17-4.

“I wanted to get a feel for tournament planning,” Nathanson said, “to see if it’s something I want to do in the future.”

“She’s playing very well,” said Don Atkinson, longtime director of the Blakeman, who will help Nathanson learn the finer points of running a tournament.

Atkinson gave Nathanson the go-ahead to play in the women’s singles between her duties as intern. Her father, Jeff, is in the men’s 55-plus bracket. She will spend a portion of Thursday putting up signs in Yarmouth, Falmouth and Cumberland, directing players to some of the 18 courts in five locations.

As of late Wednesday afternoon, Atkinson reported a men’s open field of 80 and a women’s singles field of 13. Defending women’s champion Olivia Leavitt of Falmouth is back as the top seed. Eliot Potvin, who won last year’s men’s title, won’t play because of an injury. That makes the 2016 finalist, Dana Parziale, who teaches with Potvin at The Racket & Fitness Center in Portland, as the top seed.

“This year we have a huge influx of out-of-state collegiate players,” said Atkinson. “About half the seeds are going to be from out of state.”

Play is scheduled to begin at 9:30 a.m. Friday with finals for men’s and women’s singles tentatively set for 11:30 a.m. Sunday at Yarmouth High’s newly reconstructed courts. Work that began in October on asphalt and fencing finally wrapped up July 7 with colors of blue and green, and lines for both tennis (white) and pickleball (light blue) on the four high school courts.

“Because of the cold, rainy temperatures in May, we couldn’t even get painting started until the end of June,” said Karyn MacNeill, director of Yarmouth Community Services. “This has been a project scheduled for a few years. We are happy to have them completed and just in time for the Blakeman tourney.”

Glenn Jordan can be contacted at 791-6425 or

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