Cardneaux, Laird claim 8.0 mixed crown

Published 12:00 am Monday, June 7, 2004

NATCHEZ &045; The four of them really are friends, but neither side acted too much like it during the match.

Instead, the teams of Kevin Flowers and Darla Vincent pitted against Adam Cardneaux and Nancy Laird stuck to business as usual on the courts in the finals of the 8.0 mixed doubles tournament at the 25th annual AmSouth Cancer Tennis Tournament.

Each side traded hard serves and wicked backhands, but the Cardneaux-Laird team came out the victors with a 7-6, 2-6, 6-3 win on Sunday to end play.

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&uot;They are a good team,&uot; said Cardneaux, a Natchez resident who earlier Sunday teamed with Shawn Thompson to claim the men’s 3.5 title. &uot;Kevin and Darla play a lot together, and we really just got lucky. Kevin has improved two-fold, and Darla is a very good player. Things just happened to go our way today.&uot;

The match was the final action of the whole weekend at Duncan Park, and the two teams didn’t disappoint the handful of spectators remaining with solid play. The two teams waded through a slight rain delay to complete the match that took nearly two hours to complete.

It was redemption of sorts for the winners, who got ousted in the semifinals at last year’s tournament.

&uot;They’re awesome,&uot; Laird said. &uot;We play together all the time, and we’re all friends. Darla can hit the ball harder than any guy out here. She’s just really good.&uot;

Flowers and Vincent lost the hard-fought first set on a tie-breaker before answering with solid play in the second to take the 6-2 win. All the while Cardneaux was searching for that rhythm on his hard serves, and in the third game he found it.

His hard serves made returns difficult, and he and Laird, a Vidalia resident, added in some good play at the net to win the third set convincingly.

&uot;I had to start hitting the ball harder because they were getting it back,&uot; Cardneaux said. &uot;I had to dig down and hit it harder. My serve worked well all weekend. I’m not playing a lot of tennis, but if you get your serve over and they can’t get it back, you’re going to get a lot of points.&uot;

Said Laird: &uot;Adam’s serving was definitely the key. He didn’t miss a serve. I’m glad to have him on my team because he’s awesome.&uot;

It was the second match the team took in three sets to claim the title after opening with a 6-4, 6-3 win over Dunbar and John Amoss. Flowers and Vincent, both of Natchez, also had a three-set win to get into the finals after taking a 6-4, 5-7, 7-5 win over Lindsey Devening and William Owens.

In the consolation, Mary Ruth Caldwell of Vidalia teamed with Troy LeBlanc of Lafayette and pulled off the strong 6-1, 6-2 win Sunday. The duo started off the tournament with a 5-7, 6-2, 4-6 loss to Peter Dale and Donna Duhon, but they rebounded with a win Saturday in straight sets to get to the final.

&uot;This was the first time I played with this guy,&uot; Caldwell said. &uot;The first match took some getting used to. Dale and Donna had never played played before, and they clicked really well. But as the weekend went on, we just clicked. We’re both singles players and not doubles players, but it was fun.&uot;

In other finals on Sunday, Suzan Hogue of Vidalia and Jane Opperman of St. Francisville won the women’s 4.0 title with a 1-6, 7-6, 6-4 win over Dawn Garraway and Dez O’Rourke of Baton Rouge. In the consolation, Caldwell teamed with Jackie Handjis of Natchez to win, 6-1, 6-1.

In women’s 3.5, Wanda Horne and Lynette Tanner of Ferriday won the title with a forfeit win. Sharon Marshall and Marilyn Percy of Baton Rouge won the consolation title, 6-1, 6-0.

In men’s 4.0, John Amoss and Ben Ward of New Orleans beat Joel Lessley of Natchez and LeBlanc 7-6, 6-2.

In 7.0 mixed, Keith Futrell and Lou Ellen Stout of Natchez won it with a 5-7, 6-2, 6-3 win over Vincent Washington of Natchez and Christie White of Jonesville.