A sports event with a large economic impact on the area begins today, as more than a thousand tennis players will make their way to Hilton Head Island for the USTA League South Carolina Senior State Championships.
The tournament -- which an economic study estimated brought $1.4 million to Hilton Head Island in 2008 -- gets under way today at seven different tennis sites on the island, with Sea Pines Racquet Club serving as its headquarters. The annual tournament includes 1,200 players and 103 senior teams, according to Dennis Malick of TENNIS E-News.
The three-day event will conclude Monday with the semifinals and finals. All finals matches are scheduled for 10 a.m. or noon at Sea Pines Racquet Club. The winners of each division will qualify for the sectional tournament in Mobile, Ala., this summer.
A large contingent of players won't have to travel too far -- 24 of the men's and women's teams are located in Beaufort County, 15 from the Tennis Association of Hilton Head Island (TAHHI) and nine from the still growing Coastal Carolina Tennis Association (CCTA). They range from National Tennis Rating Program level ratings of 3.0 to 4.5.
A pair of those teams helped a local club make history. Haig Point Tennis Center, located on Daufuskie Island, has qualified two teams for the state championships for the first time. The Marshside Mamas will compete for the 3.0 women's title, while the Daufuskie Divas will try to win the women's 3.5 division.
"We only have four women's doubles teams at Haig Point, so to qualify two of them for (state) is very impressive," said Ron Gwyn, director of tennis at Haig Point and coach of both teams. "The ladies have worked very hard to get to this point and are now looking forward to the challenge of bringing home a championship, or maybe two."
Each division this weekend will include round robin play today and Sunday, with the top teams qualifying for Monday's semifinals.
As part of ongoing events throughout the three-day tournament, TAHHI will conduct an auction for a pair of tickets to this year's U.S. Open. The auction will take place at most of the playing sites.
The USTA League South Carolina Adult State Championships will follow next weekend and will be played at Greenville Country Club on May 21-23.
USTA League South Carolina Senior State Championships
TENNIS ASSOCIATION OF HILTON HEAD ISLAND
Men's 3.0 Moss Creek Tornadoes (Alan Calderon)
Men's 3.0 Spring Lake Court Jesters (Jim Brissenden)
Women's 3.0 Marshside Mamas (Ron Gwyn)
Women's 3.0 SPCC White Lightning (Jan Jenkins)
Women's 3.0 Wexford Wonders (Ruth Ann Volanakis)
Men's 3.5 Indigo Run (Richard Flaum)
Women's 3.5 South Beach Sandspurs (Caroline Tucker)
Women's 3.5 Palmetto Dunes PDQ (Joanne Dugle)
Women's 3.5 Daufuskie Divas (Ron Gwyn)
Men's 4.0 Wexford Witness Protection (Ken Walton)
Men's 4.0 Long Cove Crazy Crabs (Ray Pfeiffer)
Women's 4.0 Port Royal Herricanes (Jean Freeman)
Women's 4.0 Spring Lake Racqueteers (Karen Ricker)
Men's 4.5 South Beach Hogg Doggs (Wes Breinich)
Women's 4.5 PDTC Volley Dolls (Cindy Vander Berg)
COASTAL CAROLINA TENNIS ASSOCIATION
Men's 3.0 Habersham Half Volleys (Douglas Brown)
Women's 3.0 Sun City Volley Dolls (Billye Libertore)
Women's 3.0 Sun City Visor Vixens (Dianne Glazier)
Men's 3.5 Sun City Challengers (Don Buck)
Men's 3.5 Sun City Aces (Sieg Valentin)
Women's 3.5 Sun City Violet Offenders (Donna Lucas)
Men's 4.0 CCTA/Hampton Lakers (Tom Kendall)
Women's 4.0 CCTA/Spring Chix (Kathy Hyatt)
Women's 4.5 CCTA/Berkeley (Judy Barons)
Source: TENNIS E-News