Tennis tourney a ‘great success’

Published 12:18 am Monday, June 9, 2008

NATCHEZ — Despite blazing temperatures tennis players came from all over the Southeast to compete against one another in the 29th annual Natchez Community Tennis Association Cancer Tennis Tournament.

“We had really great success,” organizer Noreen Pyron said. “We were about 60 players over last year’s (turnout). It was kind of our norm for a couple of years, but then the last couple of years (the turnout) had gone down, so we were glad to be back up to those numbers.”

All in all, Pyron said she expects the tournament to have raised between $5,000 and $6,000 for Camp Rainbow and the local Community Tennis association.

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“(The tournament) is to help kids go to camp, and it helps pay for their medical supplies,” Pyron said. “They always send a thank-you note and a picture from camp, and that warms your heart.

She said the money they don’t send to Camp Rainbow will go to the CTA, where they have resurfaced courts, built bleachers, and other accommodations for tennis players and the community.

Although the tournament had a fun atmosphere, that didn’t stop there from being playful trash talking after matches.

“The last match we were against our teammates from Lafayette and we whooped them,” Claudette Talley said jokingly toward her opponents before conceding that it was a hard-fought match.

Talley and her teammate Yvette Anzalone, defeated Becky Begnaud and Catherine Luc for the Women’s 4.0 Doubles Championship 6-0, 6-2.

For one group of players, the tennis tournament was a chance for their family to reunite and compete against one another on the courts.

“I used to come out here when I was a kid and baby sit,” Gigi Mallory Conner of Atlanta said. “And then when I turned 18 I started playing.”

Although her and her family have moved away from Natchez over the years, the tournament helps bring them back together, even if they’re trying to beat one another for bragging rights.

“(Katie Mallory) was playing with our cousin John Ward Junkin, and they beat our mother and her brother,” Conner said. “They were talking about getting put out of the will and that sort of stuff. It was a fun match to watch.”

Conner said nine members of her family participated in the tournament, including four sisters, her mother, one uncle and three cousins.

Participants traveled from all over the Southeast to play in the tournament, with some traveling from as far as Memphis, New Orleans, Lafayette, Hattiesburg and Atlanta.