Mary Blackmon is proof positive that tennis really is a sport of a lifetime. She is the captain of the women's 3.0 Columbus team that went to the state championships held in Savannah in the 65 age bracket and came home as champions.
"We went undefeated in round-robin play and everyone did their part and played well," Blackmon said. "There were so many teams at all the levels that we played all over the city to get the matches in."
There were 96 teams with just under 1,000 players. All of the Georgia winners plus winners from eight other states in the south will be coming to Columbus beginning on Friday for the Southern Super Senior sectionals at Cooper Creek. This is the second year Cooper Creek has hosted this tournament.
"Not all states are competing in our bracket. I think there are five other states and us," said Blackmon of her opponents.
The Southern sectional has grown for 2013, and there are 1,200 players on 127 teams battling for the Southern titles.
All local courts, including the courts at Columbus State, will be in use. All the state champions for men's 55, 3.5 level will be playing their matches at the CSU courts, named after Blackmon, a former tennis coach at the university.
"O.L. Gilstrap retired and I took over for a short while," Blackmon said.
"We taught classes as well as coached back in those days."
Blackmon's team will include Patricia Killough, Doris Lancaster, Maria Taylor, Georgia Wise, Clara Nell Wilkinson and Blackmon.
"We are all healthy and all ready to play." She added.
Joining Blackmon in the tournament will be the local 65 CORTA team captained by George Panos. He shares a CSU connection as well. Panos taught at CSU for 27 of his 35 years as a professor.
Now retired, he is also a certified USTA referee and can be seen as the head umpire at CSU matches.
"We were designated as the Georgia champion because we had a team, but no other cities sent a team to the state championship. Since we won the local league, we were designated to represent Georgia." Panos said.
On the Panos team are Don Caldwell, Roger Hopper, Bob Madayag, John Laney, Phil Hutchins, Hal Midgette and Johnny Rayford, Sr.
CORTA members honored
The Southern Sectionals held their annual meeting prior to the tournament and gave awards in several categories. Two local USTA members who work and volunteer with CORTA were honored at those meeting.
Helen Martin won the Gerrie Rothwell Award for her efforts on behalf of tennis and the community.
Lynn Reis was given an award for the special event of the year, the CORTA 8 and under Summer Slam.
Local league champions
The local USTA league for adults (18 and over) and seniors (40 and over) and the city league have all completed their fall seasons.
The champions from the adult and seniors won a berth next May's state district championships, which will be held all over the state.
In the adult division, 995 players were on 69 different teams. while the seniors had 645 players on 48 teams.
In the women's divisions, the league champions were as follows: 2.5 level-Ashley McCoy, 3.0-Susan Culpepper/Jennifer Williams, 3.5-Kerri Medders/Michelle Beach, 4.0 Low-Kelly Cliett/Beach, 4.0-Alexis Miller, 4.5-Katherine Dunlevie.
Winning captains in the men's divisions were 2.5-James Odom, 3.0-Josh Chandler/John Sievers, 3.5-Hal Caison/Richard Reid, 4.0 Low- Doug Gibson, 4.0-Adam Centebar, 4.5-Chris Parmer.
In the senior 40's the men's winners were 3.0- Sievers/Michael Dixon, 3.5-Scott Laymon, 4.0-Ramon Scott, 4.5-Mark Ruzeski. In the women's 40's league champs were 3.0-Culpepper/Williams, 3.5-Joi Liscar/Petra Gordon, 4.0-Brandee Murrah/Michelle Fuller, 4.5-Christy Bates.
Green Island dominated the city league of 100 players and 11 teams. Linda Cantrell's team won the 3.0 and Wanda Morpeth won the 3.5.
Christmas Toy Tournament
CORTA will complete its 2013 tournament season on Dec. 13-14 as they are hosting the annual Christmas Toy Tournament for junior boys and girls ages 10-18.
The tournament was the brainchild of CORTA'S Deby Caldwell and will have singles and doubles along with a special "Unified Doubles" bracket where an individual with a disability is paired with a non-disabled player.
Monies from the tournament are slotted for the Regional Special Olympics as well as the state Special Olympics held in Atlanta. The toys go to programs for the needy at Christmas.