Players were dived into five categories: girls 14-and-under, girls 15-18, mixed doubles, men’s singles, and men’s doubles. President of the CCTA and Centre native Mark Baker explained how a revival of tennis enthusiasm has taken place recently and how he felt it was a good time to get the CCTA up and running again.
“I’ve played tennis most all of my life and I remember when CCTA was strong back in the 70s and 80s,” Baker said. “I’ve had a lot of help and support with getting the CCTA back together and with organizing this tournament.
“The tournament will give us a chance to raise a little money for the organization, and also give tennis players a chance to get out and play this great game.”
Play got underway Friday afternoon. Abbey Stallings took the girls 14-and-under division by defeating both of her opponents in a best-of-3 round robin. Stallings won 6-2, 6-4 in her match on Friday and kept the momentum going with a 6-0, 6-1 victory on Saturday.
It was a close battle in mixed doubles action. By the time of the last match on Saturday, the remaining two teams were both undefeated with a 2-0 record.
However, Mark Baker and daughter Shauna Baker couldn’t hold of the duo of Deaner Smith and Haley Highfield in a 6-0, 6-1 match. Smith and Highfield earned first with a 3-0 record in the mixed doubles competition.
Highfield also had a strong showing in the girls 15-18 division. The Snead State Community College signee came out on top.
In men’s singles action, Ryan Wilson and Mark Baker both advanced to the final round with victories in semifinal play. Wilson won over Smith with a 10-6 victory after the two had split sets. Mark Baker battled his way to the finals with a 6-3, 6-4 win over Granger Surrett.
Wilson was able to keep his perfect singles record and defeat Mark Baker with a final score of 6-0, 6-2.
Wilson was also able to hold off Smith in the semifinal round and ultimately defeat Mark Baker to take first place.
Smith and Mark Baker are both about 30 years Wilson’s senior. Wilson is Centre native and member of the Gadsden State Community College tennis team.
In men’s doubles, the duos of Ryan Wilson/Scott Bates and Deaner Smith/Mark Baker both advanced into the final round with victories over Chase Gossett/Granger Surrett.
There was a lot of back and forth, as Wilson/Bates faced off against Smith/Mark Baker. Smith and Mark Baker were able to defeat the younger pair after the two had split sets, forcing a tie-breaking match.
After nearly two hours of total play, Mark Baker and Smith were victorious with a final score of 10-8.
Smith said he wanted the tournament to be about having fun, not winning and losing.
“We like getting the kids involved and being able to work with them and show them how much fun this game can be,” he said. “If you can give a kid praise and work with them on their game, that can improve them a lot more than pointing out their mistakes and focusing on just winning.”
Smith has been a long time tennis player and has also been involved with coaching tennis at Cherokee County High School for several years.
One of those players is Highfield.
“I had a lot of fun, and it was nice not to have to travel a long distance to play in a tournament,” she said. “The players out here are real competitive, too. Plus, it’s nice to not only have fun, but to also support the organization.”
Overall, participants and organizers believed the tournament to be a success.
“I think we had a really good turnout for this to be our first tournament,” Mark Baker said. “I would like to see more participants in the future and that would help us be able to organize more tournaments. I think it’s just going to grow and get better from here.”