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Natchez Cancer Tennis tourney ends in sunshine

NATCHEZ — For contestants at the Duncan Park tennis courts Sunday, sunny skies and cooler temperatures were a breath of fresh air.

While heavy downpours were a factor Saturday in the 31st annual Natchez Community Cancer Tennis Tournament, the weather cooperated with everyone much better in the final rounds of the event.

Suzan Hogue, co-chairman of the tournament, said she was glad all of the matches were able to get done Sunday with no interference from Mother Nature.

“If you want rain, just plan a tennis tournament,” Hogue joked.

“Fortunately, we were able to get everyone’s matches on this morning, and the weather was perfect.”

Although attendance was down this weekend compared to years past, Hogue said she would always be pleased with the turnout as long as the event still took place.

“It’s never a disappointment. We make the best of what we have, and you get to play enough tennis no matter how low or high the numbers are,” Hogue said.

“We had a little less than 100 people here this time, but we usually do it in the first week of June, and we’ll probably go back to that next year.”

For Derek Pyron, who competed in the mixed doubles bracket, the tournament was a good place to work out the kinks in his game.

“I played OK, but not at the level I should have. I missed some shots, and overall was a little rusty,” Pyron said.

“We had one game delayed that we were supposed to play (Saturday) night that we ended up playing (Sunday) morning, but it wasn’t a big deal. I still finished in a reasonable amount of time.”

And the chance for local tennis enthusiasts to play against people from out of town is one of the things that’s so attractive about the tournament, Hogue said.

“We’ve pulled in big groups from Jackson, Lafayette and Baton Rogue before. This is good for the locals, because they can face someone new,” Hogue said.

“We have a big tennis community here, but it’s not as big as some of the tennis communities from the larger cities.”

For Pyron, playing in the tournament is something that runs in the family.

“My mom’s the director, and I grew up playing here at Duncan Park. It’s a fun tournament, and there’s a lot of people you see only once a year that come here, so you always look forward to seeing them,” Pyron said.

It’s also a tournament that raises money for a good cause, Hogue said.

“We earmark half of the money we raise to go towards the American Cancer Society’s Camp Sunshine, where they bring children stricken with cancer to have fun. It’s always nice when they send a picture of the kids holding up a thank you sign.”

The other half of the money raised goes back to Duncan Park, Hogue said.

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