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SATURDAY, MARCH 10, 2007
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Will Breland of Decatur High returns a shot during the Austin High spring tennis tournament at Point Mallard on Friday afternoon.
Daily photo by Michael Wetzel
Will Breland of Decatur High returns a shot during the Austin High spring tennis tournament at Point Mallard on Friday afternoon.

15-team field strong at Austin tournament
Event continues Saturday morning at Point Mallard

By Mark Edwards
medwards@decaturdaily.com 340-2461

The tennis courts are full at Point Mallard, and that's good news for local high school boys varsity teams.

Austin High is hosting its annual spring tournament, which features 15 schools, including Austin, Decatur and Hartselle. Those three are facing competition from traditional North Alabama programs such as Grissom, Florence and Russellville. Teams from the Birmingham metro area have made the trip, including Vestavia Hills, Spain Spark and Pelham. Northridge of Tuscaloosa also has entered the field.

Tournament play began Friday afternoon with opening-round singles matches. Several second-round matches also took the court before the end of the day.

The teams will hit the courts again Saturday at 9 a.m. with the tournament wrapping up in the evening.

"In general, this is a great way to meet some teams that are outside the area," said Austin sophomore Alex Worley, who plays No. 1 in the Black Bears' singles lineup and is in his fourth year with the varsity.

"It's good experience. There are a lot of good teams here."

The Austin tournament also includes a girls field, but because the event has grown so large, the girls and boys brackets are played out at separate times. The girls played last weekend with 13 schools participating. Florence won the team championship.

In last year's boys tournament, Walker won the championship, while Hoover placed second. Neither is back this year, but the competition doesn't appear to have slowed.

"This is a really good tournament," said Decatur junior Chris Harlow, who plays No. 3 singles and is in his third year on the varsity.

"We get to play players we normally wouldn't play, and that's great experience."

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