Senior team collects wins, gives out goodies

Published 12:01 am Friday, April 6, 2012

NATCHEZ — The Pat Dickens 6.5 Super Senior team might be dominating on the tennis court, but they’re always sure to bring a little bit of Natchez with them.

Attempting to stay true to the Hospitality State nickname, Dickens and her group of eight women represent the Miss-Lou and the State of Mississippi by filling tennis ball containers with Natchez goodies.

From Darby’s Famous Fudge to fliers advertising the Historic Natchez Tableaux and the Natchez Festival of Music, Dickens said she and her group always give opposing teams a little something by which to remember them.

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“We try to be good representatives for the community,” Dickens said. “We’re the hospitality team, and people respond well to that. We win them over with kindness.”

But it’s not just their kindness that makes Dickens’ squad a good representative for the community. The team brought home a sectionals championship after competing in the USTA Southern Combo Doubles Sectional Championship in Mobile, Ala., March 2-5. They did so by topping a team from North Carolina 2-1 in the championship match.

“We beat a team we weren’t expected to beat,” Dickens said. “We looked at their record, and they had a remarkable record. They had to play through a longer list of teams, and they played in an area where they had more preparation.”

Dickens’ squad includes herself as captain, Margaret Fudickar, Ruth Gagliano, Mary Lessley, Carol Anderson, Agatha Weeks, Cecelia Forman and Carolyn White. After winning the sectional championship, Dickens said her squad had some mixed emotions.

“It was a cross between being excited and being tired,” Dickens said. “We played through some tough weather, and it was a long drive back for us.”

Since only four players on the team are from Natchez, and the rest are from surrounding areas, Dickens said she’s not able to practice with them on a regular basis. But a give-100-percent attitude and a familiarity with each other allows them to make up for lost practice time, she said.

“We’re on a number of other teams where we interact with each other,” Dickens said. “Seven of the women are on our tri-level team that won sections in the fall last year.”

Dickens said the fact that a small area like the Miss-Lou has a sectional championship team is remarkable.

“We have a much smaller player pool that other areas,” Dickens said. “When we go to Jackson, they have like 15 tennis pros, and here we only have one in Henry Harris.”

Harris also said it was big for the city to have a sectionals champion, especially since it was won by a Super Seniors team.

“They’re 60 and older, and a lot of people have health problems at that age, and it helps cut down on them to do some type of exercise,” Harris said. “Tennis is a form of exercise, and if you can learn to play it, you’ll have fun.”

Dickens said even though her team has a sectionals championship, they’re not going to settle for just one.

“It’s exceptional that we’ve done it, and we’re going to do it again,” Dickens said.