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Tight matches highlight Community Cancer Tennis Tournament

NATCHEZ — Despite a lower than expected turnout, the Natchez Community Cancer Tennis Tournament was filled with competitive tennis from players across the region.

The majority of the players in this year’s tournament were from Natchez, Vidalia, Ferriday, Woodville and Jonesville. There were some Natchez natives who currently live in cities such as St. Francisville, La., Ridgeland and Madison who also participated as well as players from the Baton Rouge and Jackson metropolitan areas.

One of those teams was Patrick Brown of Ridgeland and Hardy Hill of Madison. The No. 2 seeded team in men’s 3.5 doubles, Brown and Hill had to rally to defeat the top-seeded team of Matthew Brough of Granbury, Texas and Tate Hobdy of Natchez in the main draw finals, 3-6, 6-1, 1-0.

“It was a tough match. We got off to a slow start. Tate and Matt were hitting really well. Then they made a couple of mistakes in the second set,” Brown said. “We lost two games in the second set all weekend. We’re both from Natchez. It’s good to come back every year.”

Another match that had to go to a third-set tiebreaker was the mixed 6.0 doubles main draw finals between Kay Ketchings and Dylan White, both from Natchez, and Emily Hazlip of Vidalia and Michael Rabb of Shreveport, La. Ketchings and White won the match, 7-5, 2-6, 1-0.

“It wasn’t nearly as hot as it was yesterday,” Ketchings said. “They were good opponents. We won the first set and they came back strong the in the second set. It could’ve gone either way.”

The heat and high humidity was a factor during the matches that took place on Friday and Saturday, tournament director Noreen Pyron noted.

“It was tough this year after being so cool for several weeks. We had three different people who cramped up. It was just too hot for them,” Pyron said. “But it didn’t rain.”

The other three matches of the day needed just two sets to complete. Valencia Brown and Dwain Perkins, both from Natchez, defeated Mark Carter of Vidalia and Phebe Martin of St. Martinville, La., 6-4, 7-6 in the Mixed 7.0 doubles main draw finals.

Donna Ball of Woodville and Donna Callaway of Natchez defeated Hazel Brallier and Pam Riggs, both from Jonesville, in the Mixed 3.0 doubles consolation finals, 6-4, 6-2.

After being upset in the quarterfinals on Saturday and knocked down the consolation bracket, the top-seeded team of Beth Foster and Danny Huffines, both from Natchez, defeated Stan Hazlip of Ferriday and Corinne Hegwood of Natchez in the Mixed 7.0 doubles consolation finals, 6-3, 6-3.

For the second straight year, participation in the tournament was down from the previous year. However, Pyron said she could not give one specific reason as to why the number of participants was down this year from last year. Instead, she named off several factors.

“There’s so many things going on with kids out of school. I can figure about 20 people from Natchez who normally play in this who are out of town. Kids playing ball. There are so many USTA (United States Tennis Association) leagues, so they’re probably burned out from playing so much.”