Natchez serving up new tennis season

Published 12:04 am Friday, January 27, 2012

NATCHEZ — With spring right around the corner, both youth and adult tennis will be kicking off soon at the Duncan Park tennis complex.

Henry Harris, tennis director for the City of Natchez, said USTA adult league practices began Monday, and more youth will start filtering in with winter sports ending.

Harris said there should be approximately 10 teams between the 2.0 and 4.0 men’s and women’s classifications. Those teams will play teams from Brookhaven, McComb and Monticello.

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There is a lack of beginner men’s players, Harris said, and the league is currently hoping for more men to sign up to round out the starter-level team.

“We have teams splits, where the 2.0 and 2.5 men are working with the 3.0 men, and they’re just not ready for that level of play,” Harris said. “We need at least 10 to put a 2.5 team together.”

League meetings will be Feb. 12 in McComb, where team captains will present their teams and help organize schedules. Matches will take place Monday-Saturday with occasional Sunday matches.

When USTA play starts up, Harris said the matches will bring an economic impact to Natchez when the city hosts other teams from the southwestern region.

“This is good for the city, because it brings income in when these out-of-town teams come to play,” Harris said. “Sometimes the teams will come in Friday, play Friday and Saturday, shop on Saturday then go home Saturday night.”

Harris also said the town will be able to make matches more convenient for the non-local teams when work on a new recreation complex finally gets under way.

“We need more courts, because if McComb teams are playing 7 p.m. matches, they’re getting done about 9:30 or 10 at night,” Harris said. “They’re not getting home until 11 or 11:30 at night. If we had more courts, we could play five league matches at one time, so they’d be getting done about 8:30 to 9 p.m.”

And the need for more tennis courts has been an issue for at least 10 years, Harris said, especially when it comes to local youth that are interested in the sport.

“At 5 (p.m.), we have to shove them away for the adults to be able to practice,” Harris said.

“With more courts, we could keep them here until 7 while the adults play, and keep them out of trouble. There’s not going to be any trouble on the tennis courts, and we’d be keeping the trouble away from here.”

Harris said approximately 200 local children have been playing tennis over the past year, and the growth is a credit to the school programs that have popped up.

“We started it in the schools, and from there, it’s grown,” Harris said. “The last two years, lots of kids have been out here, so it’s something for them to do.”

For more information, Harris can be reached at 601-442-1584 or 601-597-8070.