Just like the rest of the world, tennis is trying to find its “new normal.” Leagues, tournaments, lessons, and programs have slowly started to come back across the area, although they may not look quite the same as in years past. Masks, large gatherings, physical distancing, and caution are aspects we have all become conscious of in 2020, and it extends into everything we do, recreation and sport included. But while many activities have been limited by the virus, tennis has been dubbed one of the safest activities available by multiple studies and interviews with public health experts. So with that being said, now is a great time to get out on the court
MISSISSIPPI JUNIOR CLOSED
Originally scheduled for May, Mississippi’s premiere junior tournament finally took place the last week of July, as Ridgeland Tennis Center served as the host of the Mississippi Junior Closed State Championship. Formerly known as the “Qualifier,” the Mississippi Junior Closed awards the highest ranking point total of any junior tournament in the state that is closed only to players who live in state.
One hundred and fifty three players entered the event in 2020, compared with 205 in 2019, so the turnout and demand to get back to playing high level tennis for Mississippi juniors is still there despite virus concerns.
“We thought it went really well,” said Cheryl Harris, tournament director and co-director of Ridgeland Tennis Center.
“We had to do a lot of things differently than we normally would when running a larger tournaments to take precautions, but the parents and kids were great and followed all of the new protocols.”
William Foreman, who took over for the recently retired Kent Shultz as Director of Player Development for USTA Mississippi, also spoke of how good it was to be able to have Mississippi’s best juniors back playing competitive tournament tennis.
“The Closed is our biggest and most anticipated tournament,” said Foreman.
“It was good to be able to get back to some sense of normalcy, and for the kids to get out and compete. I know the kids have been looking forward to being able to get out and start playing again.”
Junior players from the Northside showed well in the tournament as well, as the area had four singles champions out of the 10 divisions offered.
MISSISSIPPI JUNIOR OPEN
Two weeks after hosting the Mississippi Junior Closed State Championship, Ridgeland Tennis Center again played host to the Mississippi Junior Open. Also one of the largest and more prestigious tournaments in the state, the open is an STA Level 3 tournament in terms of ranking points, making it one of a small handful of tournaments in Mississippi with that point designation. Unlike the closed state championship which is only open to Mississippi residents, the junior open had players from all over the South.
But even with the stiff competition, four Mississippi juniors from the Northside were able to bring home four singles titles in the tournament.