Courts open for AmSouth cancer tour

Published 12:00 am Saturday, June 5, 2004

NATCHEZ &045; Twenty-five years ago Jeanie Peabody got together with several friends to lay the groundwork for a tennis tournament to benefit the American Cancer Society, with the proceeds staying in Natchez.

On this, the silver anniversary of the AmSouth Bank Cancer Tennis Tournament, tourney officials will be among several honored for kickstarting the event.

&uot;I learn something new from her every time I go anywhere,&uot; said tournament co-chairman Noreen Pyron. &uot;She coached the team at Trinity for 11 years. She’s gone on to bigger and better things, but she’s had an impact on everyone. Plus, she still plays well at 71 years old.&uot;

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The three-day doubles tourney begins with registration at the Duncan Park Tennis Courts, the event’s headquarters, at 2:30 p.m. today.

Players are asked to report to Duncan Park where they will henceforth begin play there or be sent out to one of the satellite courts, either at Beau Pr Country Club or the Vidalia, La., City Courts.

Proceeding completed matches, players must report back to Duncan Park for the next matches to begin.

In today’s action, women’s matches begin at 3 p.m., while the men get under way at 4:30 p.m. and the mixed doubles must wait until 7 p.m.

&uot;The benefits stay here in our community,&uot; said Pyron, who has been involved in the event since 1986. &uot;My mother died from cancer and I’ve had it in my family otherwise. I like to do what I can. It’s something I don’t mind doing. Everyone is grateful to help out whatever we can.

&uot;Sponsors tell us we don’t even have to ask any more. It’s nice that things fall into place each year.&uot;

Using United States Tennis Association rules and past histories in the tournament, the committee configured the brackets Wednesday.

Also figured in was whether the players had any state or national rankings. Pyron said there are fewer than five players in one draw, meaning those competitors will participate in a Round Robin format.

Players are expected from as far north as Memphis, Tenn., to the south as in Baton Rouge and west as in Lafayette, La.

Tournament officials have also historically always participated, as well.

&uot;All of us do juggling acts through the weekend because we usually all play,&uot; Pyron said. &uot;It always works out well. We get repeat players because so many respect this tournament. They love to come to Natchez because of the hospitality.&uot;

Contrary to past years, Pyron will be sitting this year’s edition out.

After mid-week showers and thunderstorms, the weekend’s weather calls for some isolated and scattered thunderstorms throughout the weekend.

If the floodgates open, Pyron said there is a contingency plan: speed tennis.

&uot;We’ve never been completely rained out,&uot; she said. &uot;We’ll play it by ear and if it does we’ll get out there and squeegee the courts. We’ll go late into the night if need be and alter the scoring. But the weather is looking better. If it keeps raining at night and looking like this during the day, we’ll be OK.&uot;

At 6:15 p.m. today, play will be stopped at the Duncan Park courts to pay tribute to Peabody and others who initiated the effort.

&uot;She’s done so much for the Natchez community as far as tennis and other things. She definitely gives back,&uot; Pyron said of Peabody. &uot;Her major concern now is wheelchair tennis. She puts on the national tournament in Baton Rouge every year.&uot;