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Tennis notes: Columbus 4.5 women's team wins state championship

May is a big month for the United States Tennis Association in Georgia as state championships were held in adult league tennis for three weekends in a row in three cities: Macon, Rome and Augusta.

In the USTA tournament in Rome in the women's 4.5 level, the Columbus team headed by Christy Bates won two straight matches against Atlanta teams on the final day to finish as the state champions. For their efforts, Bates and her teammates will head to Mobile the first weekend in August for the Southern sectionals.

"There we were on Mother's Day playing cards and waiting for the rain to stop," Bates said about her team. "We never got to play and were told we would be playing semifinals Monday and the winners would play finals later."

There were a total of 12 players on the team, however, Christy Stewart was injured and Hiroko Nakamura was ill and did not make the trip. Then Cathy Johnson became ill at the tournament site and did not play a match, leaving Bates with nine players.

"This was one of the best teams I have ever been on as far as attitude is concerned. Wherever I needed to play someone, they would play," Bates said.

Bates had great praise for Penny Dillon and Jennifer Vasilescu, who both did not lose a match in the tournament.

"And Lauren Neal was a real trooper as I told her that I would need her to play singles in the finals, and she agreed," Bates said. "There we were, tied 2-2 in individual matches, and Lauren won her match to clinch the state championship."

Bates also said Neal and she came through with a big win during round robin competition when she and Neal were down one set and 5-3 and came back and won in a tiebreaker to clinch a spot in the semifinals.

Also on the winning state team were Allison Cripe, Jeri Stewart, Lori Duggan, Theresa Douthit and Laura Gaboardi.

"Jeri told me that the last time she remembered a Columbus team winning at 4.5 was 10 years ago, so we felt good about coming through," Bates added.

In the tournament in Augusta, the best showing was by the 3.0 men's team captained by Chris Addison, who lost in the finals to Atlanta. In Macon, Alexis Miller's 3.5 women's team made to the finals, also losing to Atlanta.

Seniors coming to town

Starting Friday morning, 909 players will be coming from all over the state as Cooper Creek Tennis Center will host the USTA Georgia district championships for seniors 50 and older in men's and women's levels.

Columbus has been the site of the state tournament for several years. There are 30 courts at Cooper Creek as well as the opportunity to use the 10 Columbus Country Club courts for additional matches.

Several Columbus teams have qualified to play in the tournament, and additional Columbus teams received wild cards to compete as well. This is the last season for matches at the senior level for 50 and older before the USTA's new age brackets come into play.

Starting at the men's 3.0, Thomas Miller and Robert Hurst are the two opposing captains vying for the state crown. In the men's 3.5, there are four Columbus teams in the mix, and the captains are Ted Preston, Robert Wiggins, Gary Ruzeski and Jan Spitzer. In the men's 4.0, the teams will be Mark Hudson from Green Island and David Thomson from Auburn, Ga. Jay Pease's team will be in the mix for the 4.5 title.

In the women's 3.0 level, the teams are captained by Jkaren Bryant and Janice Harris. At women's 3.5, there are also four teams, and the captains are Joni Breault, Tulan Hall, Donna Close and Susan Weed. At 4.0, the teams are led by Brinkley Pound and Nancy Scott and Nakamura is the captain of the ladies 4.5 team in the running.

Annual CORTA Awards

On May 15, the Columbus Regional Tennis Association held its annual awards cookout and handed out 16 total awards to local players, juniors and adults as well as volunteers. Winning the Ron Summers Official of the Year was Ron Morrison, Female Captain of the Year was Joy Shelnutt and Male Captain of the Year was Greg Yates.

Winning the Volunteer of the Year was Adam Centebar while Roger Pearce was Male Player of the Year and Valerie Harbour was Female Player of the Year. Winning honors for top adult league player were Preston for the men and Moksha Doshi for the women. In juniors, Win Cawthorne was the boys' league player and Jonathon Dreelin was male player of the year.

Junior team tennis captain was Charlie Clippinger and family of the year was the Raj Arora family. The Aaron Cohn Award winner was Kenneth Johnson while Henssey Ngo won the Dr. Nelson Tyrone Jr. Memorial Mennis Trophy. Winners of the male and female service awards for 2012 were Mary Grier Illges and her brother, John Illges IV.

Junior Banana Results

The Banana Open ended this season with the juniors, and 16 titles were won over the first weekend in May. In the girls divisions in singles, the champions were Lynn Pearson at 10s, Gracie Hemmings at 12s, Rachel Hemmings at 14s, Caroline Boren at 16s and Abigail Courville at 18s. Girls doubles champions were Lillie Patton and Hemmings at 12s and Abbie Dillon and Erika Klar at age 14s.

In the boys' singles divisions the winners were 10-Jack Schondelmayer, 12-Michael Mercer, 14-Luke Harden, 16-Ryan Gordon, 18-Aaron Broom.

In the boys doubles it was Harden and Jeremiah Harrison at 14s, Gordon and Alex VonHilsheimer in the 16s and Tanner Childs and Brent McLemore in the 18s.

Adult Banana Open winners

Due to a computer problem, the 2011 winners were listed as the winners of the 2012 tournament. Here are the correct winners of the 2012 adult tournament. In women's divisions in Singles, 2.5-Judy Dunham, 3.0-Sarah Hackaday, 3.5-Pam Knight, 4.0- Kellie felt, In the women's doubles, it was 2.5-Sherry Anthony and Linda Gordon, 3.0-Cheri Rice and Janet Jenkins, 3.5-Kathleen Gilliam-Nellie Fields, 4.0-Stephanie DaSilva and Renee Fleishmann, 4.5-Jaclyn Bruer and Katherine Dunlevie.

In the men's divisions, the winners in singles were 2.5-Kwan Lee, 3.0-Sungwood Jung, 3.5-Clayton Horne, 4.0-Jose Dos Santos, 4.5-David Wells and Open-Tim Whitehead.

In doubles at 2.5 the winners were James Odom and James Scott, 3.0-Jason Reynolds and John Sievers, 3.5-Timothy Tramel and Byron Cliett, 4.0- Ramon Scott and Russell Davis, 4.5-Steve Thiel and Rick Stoller.

In the mixed doubles at 3.0 the champions were Jill and Judson Peacock, at 3.5-John Keigans and Tracy brooks, 4.0-Todd Human and DaSilva and at 4.5-Alex and Jennifer Vasilescu.