Cancer tennis touney hot, but fun, players say

Published 12:19 am Monday, June 6, 2011

ERIC SHELTON/THE NATCHEZ DEMOCRAT — Annie Pierce returns a serve during the 32nd Annual Natchez Community Cancer Tennis Tournament Saturday afternoon at Duncan Park.

NATCHEZ — The third and final day of the 32nd annual Natchez Community Cancer Tennis Tournament featured plenty of good tennis under blazing hot sun.

With temperatures into the 90s all weekend, hydration was as important as the serves.

“We’ve had some years when it’s been hot, but you tend to forget them. It’s been extremely hot this year,” tournament co-chairman Suzan Hogue said. “Fortunately, no one got overheated and no one had to go to the hospital to get a drip. We’re glad everyone survived the heat.”

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One player who had an outstanding Sunday was Reggie Jones of Liberty. Reggie teamed with his son Reg, also from Liberty, to defeat David Medlin of Greenwell Springs, La., and Nam Nguyen of Baton Rouge, 2-6, 6-2, 1-0 (10-8) in the men’s 3.5 doubles championship match.

“That was a tough team out of Baton Rouge. It was a tough match,” Reggie said. “My son and I, this is the first time we’ve played together. He’s been out of tennis for several years. In the second set, they made a few mistakes and momentum changed and the shots started falling for us. They were up 8-7 in the tiebreaker. You never know about the tiebreakers. They can go either way.”

Reggie Jones and his partner Christine Anderson, also from Liberty, won in the mixed 7.0 doubles. In the championship match, they defeated Fayla Guedon and George Mayers of Natchez, 6-2, 6-2 later in the day.

“The score might have said (it was easier), but it was a tough match,” Jones said. “Chris and I have been playing together for a while. She’s a great player. This is the third year in a row we’ve been in the finals and the first year we’ve won it.”

Reggie Jones said this was the fourth straight year he’s been playing in this tournament after being away from tennis for five years.

“It’s such a great tournament, and they do such a great job. It’s a lot of fun, and it’s for a good cause. I played in it a number of years ago.”

Anderson was also a double winner as she and Lucy Stevens of Jena, La., defeated Lillian Pasos of Baton Rouge and Jill Sayers of Geismar, La., 6-1, 6-4 in the women’s 3.5 double finals.

In the women’s 3.5 doubles Consolation finals, sisters Beth Foster of Natchez and Katie Mahony of Atlanta defeated Jane Opperman of St. Francisville, La., and Noreen Pyron of Natchez, 6-2, 6-4.

“My sister made me play in it. She’s a 4.0 and I’m a 3.5,” Foster said. “It was hard, though. Jane and Noreen wore us out. Good thing my sister was on. The heat kind of had something to do with it. We were ready to finish.

“We’ve been doing this for over 10 years. We usually have to draw straws for this one and the (Cathedral) Fall Festival (Tennis Tournament) to see who plays with whom.”

The mixed 8.0 doubles finals was supposed to be a showdown between the top-seeded team of Davis Beard and Michael Flowers of Natchez and the second-seeded team of Peter Dale of Natchez and Jennifer Smith of Fayette. Instead, Dale and Smith won by default.

Paula Eddy of Baton Rouge had quite an interesting and successful Sunday. First, she and Kenny Gautreau of Gonzales, La., took down Janice Medlin of Greenwell Springs and Dwayne Blanc of Baton Rouge in a mixed 8.0 doubles consolation semifinal match Sunday morning, 6-2, 6-1. Paula and Kenny were the third-seeded team in that division.

Then later in the morning, Eddy teamed with Meleé Gautreau, Kenny’s wife, in the women’s 4.0 doubles finals and the top-seed team in that division defeated the second-seeded team of Carmen Adcock of Natchez and Smith, 6-2, 6-2.

“They were very intimidating at first,” Eddy said about Adcock and Smith. “But Meleé came out like a bullet and that allowed me to follow suit. We stayed aggressive the whole match. If we didn’t, that would’ve created an opening for them and we didn’t want that to happen. It was our best match of the week. It was great tennis and great people.”

Then in the mixed 8.0 doubles consolation finals that didn’t start until 1:45 p.m., Paula and Kenny defeated Henry and Bonnie Coates of Baton Rouge, 6-2, 6-4.

“We enjoy the people,” Kenny Gautreau said. “We enjoy the community. Hopefully, the next year we’ll bring a few more couples. This year we brought five couples from (the) Baton Rouge (area).”

In the mixed 7.0 doubles consolation finals, Obie Watts of Addis, La., and Regina Blanchard of Baton Rouge upset top-seeded Laurie McKnight and Bennet Singletary of Baton Rouge, 6-1, 6-3.

“We come all the way from Baton Rouge. We’ve been playing in this for 15-plus years. Gas at $4 a gallon, and we still come up here. Everything was perfect here except for the gnats,” Watts said. “We hope to keep coming here another 20 years.”

Hogue said turnout for this year’s Natchez Community Cancer Tennis Tournament was better than even she expected it to be.

“We had about 138 players, which was about 35 more than last year,” she said. “We had a really good draw. We had a lot of strong players from here and out of town. We had our annual rain delay on Friday evening.”