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SATURDAY, JULY 28, 2007
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Class 6A state tennis comes to Decatur
City also lands junior college state tourney, 5A sectional events

By Mark Edwards
medwards@decaturdaily.com · 340-2461

The good news came as a surprise to Austin High tennis player Alex Worley.

Walking into city tennis director Tommy Wade's office at the Jimmy Johns Tennis Center recently, Worley saw Wade had just gotten off the phone. Wade relayed the crux of his conversation to Worley: Decatur had landed the Class 6A boys and girls tennis tournaments.

"It's been in Mobile for a while, and since they have so many courts down there, I'm a little shocked that it's going somewhere else," said Worley, a rising junior.

"I'm really thrilled about this."

The tournament will be April 28-May 1, 2008, at Jimmy Johns. Decatur also has landed the Alabama Community College Conference men's and women's state tennis tournaments, set for April 18-19, 2008, and the Class 5A, Section 6 boys and girls tennis tournaments, which will take place toward the end of April 2008.

"This is a heck of a start for economic development for us," said Wade, who estimated that the 6A tournament alone would fill about 120 to 150 hotel rooms for five nights.

Decatur’s recent improvements to Jimmy Johns Center have helped make the city more attractive to large tournaments.

The center now has four clay courts and 14 on hard surfaces, including two covered by a large bubble for indoor play. In addition, there is a new pro shop.

“This will help verify why it was important that we get these courts built,” Austin High coach Debby Crowell said. “Building these courts brings tournament like this here.”

The news of the 6A state tournament can make a particular impact on the Austin High tennis program, since it is the only 6A school in the Morgan, Limestone and Lawrence counties.

This past year, Austin sent two players to the state tournament, which was played at the Mobile Tennis Center on May 2-3. Worley advanced to the boys quarterfinals, while classmate Meleana McCutcheon reached the girls quarterfinals. They made it to the state tournament by winning the top singles division at sectional tournaments.

The 6A tournament includes 16 teams in both the girls and boys fields. The top two boys teams and top two girls squads advance from each of the state’s eight sectional tournaments.

“Having the state tournament here can be a big boost for our team,” Worley said. “We’ll strive to make the tournament as a team, and hopefully, have a home crowd advantage.”

Worley said that at this year’s state tournament, he had only his coach, Crowell, and his parents there to watch him.

“Maybe this year, we can have teammates there cheering for each other,” Worley said.

Added Crowell: “It’s hard for the kids going down to Mobile and having nobody to hang out with except their parents.”

The ACCC tournament is slated to play at Jimmy Johns Tennis Center for three years. Central Alabama Community College hosted the event this past spring and won both the men’s and women’s championships.

This tournament will bring eight teams, and the top two in both the men’s and women’s divisions will advance to the NJCAA tournament.

The 5A, Section 6 high school tournaments include Decatur and Athens. Muscle Shoals hosted the girls event this past spring, while Russellville had the boys tournament.

In the girls championship, the Lady Red Raiders finished second to Muscle Shoals in front of a spirited pro-Muscle Shoals crowd.

New tennis for the River City

  • April 28-May 1, 2008:Class 6A boys and girls state tournaments.

  • April 18-19, 2008:Alabama Community College Conference men’s and women’s state tournaments.

  • April 2008:Class 5A, Section 6 boys and girls tournaments.

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