Bob Brown recalls when the Junior Team Tennis state championship draws consisted of four teams apiece.
Some five years later, he estimates, Sumter is preparing to host the largest event the organization has seen to date in South Carolina.
Four local teams will travel to the Palmetto Tennis Center in Sumter today to compete for a three-day state championship and a spot in the Southern Championships in Mobile, Ala. More than 250 players will be in attendance for the event, according to a release, up from 230 a year ago. It is a USTA-sanctioned tournament that concludes with championship matches Sunday.
Brown, the local JTT coordinator, will be taking an 18-and-under and a 14-and-under team to the state championship. Eric Wammock is taking a 14-and-under team, and Scott Nichols will return to South Carolina for the weekend to take an 18-and-under squad. All four teams, which qualified by winning their local leagues, are intermediate level.
"It's always a tough tournament to predict because you never know what players your opponents will have," Wammock said. "So, in a way, you always feel like you have a chance."
Each team's match consists of a boys and girls singles match, a boys doubles team, a girls doubles team and a mixed doubles team for a total of five matches. The team to win the most games -- not matches -- during those five is declared the winner.
Winning the tournament won't come quite as easy as years past. The 18-and-under draw, for example, has become large enough to field two flights. The winners of each will play for the title Sunday.
The tournament site, Palmetto Tennis Center, has added a Tennis Extravaganza event scheduled for Saturday, which includes a variety of events designed to improve team spirit.
"It's become a big event, so it should be fun," Brown said. "I still expect to do pretty well. We have a couple of teams that can win some matches."
What: USTA Junior Team Tennis State Championships
When: Today through Sunday
Where: Palmetto Tennis Center, Sumter
Local teams (coach): 18-and-under (Brown), 18-and-under (Nichols), 14-and-under (Brown), 14-and-under (Wammock)