Locals enjoy competition on the tennis court

Special to the Ledger-EnquirerFebruary 9, 2014 

Two local Columbus Regional Tennis Association (CORTA) team captains, Wayne Keene and Chuck Tharpe, both agree on one thing about playing in the local leagues: the relationships with other people that have the same enjoyment that they get and playing and competing against them in tennis.

Tharpe started playing in 2006 and became a captain in 2007, while Keene started in the league in 1997 after moving to Columbus and took over in the spring of 2000, where he has headed up teams ever since.

"There was a group of us at Green Island that got together for a clinic and it was so much fun we just kept going," said Tharpe of his beginnings.

"I started being captain in 2007 and have done it every year since."

Keene moved to Columbus from Greenville, S.C., for job opportunities, going to work for, at that time, Total Systems, now called TSYS. He retired recently from TSYS after 15 and a half years.

"I played in Greenville starting in 1990 where there was only one season. I came to Columbus and here there are two seasons for play. I look over a team in 2000 and we went to state in Macon, won and went to Southern sectionals in Mobile." said Keene.

Tharpe reported he has captained 32 teams since 2007, all out of Green Island, and has competed 7 times at the state level and twice in sectionals. In 2013 at the CORTA awards ceremony, he won captain of the year. For that, his nomination went to the state United State Tennis Association.

"Two weeks ago, Izzy Hortman called and said I had won the state captain of the year for Georgia in USTA," said Tharpe. "It was unexpected, but we drove up to the Marriott in Atlanta on Saturday at the awards banquet. It must have been nearly 200 people in attendance."

"We missed the weather but were right on the perimeter, and there were still a lot of cars on the roadside," he added.

Keene did not know how many teams he had gone to state with and how many won titles.

"I think either an adult or senior team has gone to the state district championships about every other year since 2000," said Keene.

"You meet such a wide range of folks from all types of work life that have one thing in common, tennis."

Keene praised his winter 2014 senior team that won the local 4.0 title.

"We had to reschedule makeup matches for the make-ups due to weather and everyone was very accommodating. I think that is why we finished all of our matches," he added.

Winter 2014 champions

The big winner for the Super Senior and mixed adult and senior leagues was the weather. Officially both the mixed adult and senior leagues and super senior 55 and 65's were to end play Jan. 11th, in time for the spring 2014 leagues to begin.

"The weather was the winner this year," said CORTA employee Cissy Sanders, who, along with Charlie Clippinger, has tried to work out extending time to get seasons and champions noted so they could compete in 2014 state tournaments.

Some of the league's champions have been able to complete their season, but several have still not been determined due to lack of court availability.

"In fact the weather has been such a factor that some of the leagues that were to start the weekend of Jan. 18th in adult have not played a match yet," said Sanders.

In addition, there is a very large contingent of players in the spring leagues, including 91 in the morning city league with 9 teams and 890 players on 66 teams in adult leagues and 591 players on 46 teams in senior leagues.

In adult 55s, Keene's 4.0 team won and completed their season, and in men's 3.0 the team co-captained by Gary Ruzeski/Sidney Crews also won. In women's 55 divisions, Nancy Scott's team won at 4.0.

In the 65s, Mary Blackmon's 3.0 women's team was the only winner determined.

Three teams in the mixed adults have been determined as local winners at 2.5 it is Shaun Scott's team, at 6.0 it is the team captained by Joy Shellnut and Rob Schwoebel, and at 9.0 it is the team headed up by Christy Bates.

In mixed seniors at 7.0, the team headed up by Scott Laymon and Paige King is champion, and at 8.0 it is the winning team led by Sheila Ezell.

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