Tennis towns battle
A battle of two towering tennis towns emerged on local courts this past weekend, July 29-31, when the Fredericksburg Dr Pepper/Babolat Junior Tennis Open featured some of the best up-and-coming talents in the sport.
Of 15 division crowns on the line, Fredericksburg netters claimed eight, while the other tennis “powerhouse” in the region — Mason— claimed six. (The odd one out was claimed by a player from Early.)
“I think that’s a testimony to the strength of tennis in this area,” said Fredericksburg High School Head Tennis Coach Randall King, who organizes the event on behalf of the Fredericksburg Tennis Association.
Mason coach Paul Smith has built a strong tennis program in that community, while King has led an award-winning program here in Fredericksburg.
“We’re just in a tennis ‘pocket’ where lots of people play, the association is active and the youth are active and it’s, well, nice,” King said.
Turnout for this year’s junior tourney was 162 entries, about average over the past few years since construction on the high school courts one summer sent some players elsewhere.
But, truly, having “160-200 entries is about right for us, because we don’t have enough courts to handle more,” King said, adding his gratitude to those owners of private courts who volunteer them for tournament and camp play.
As far as quality of play, Fredericksburg and Mason’s strong showing bodes well for the future of King’s high school program.
“Our kids are out and involved in playing tournaments and getting that experience. It definitely benefits your middle school and high school programs,” King said.
“As it is with any sport, that’s what it’s about. Those kids who spent the extra time are the ones who make your high school programs successful,” he said.
For many, the Dr Pepper/Babolat Junior Open was a last hurrah of summer activity before those players head to football, volleyball or tennis summer practices.
For the Fredericksburg High School tennis squad, practices will begin Tuesday, Aug. 9.
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