Wachovia Palmetto Championship
The Wachovia Palmetto Championships finished a hot week with championship matches and an awards ceremony at the Belton Tennis Center on June 9. This concluded seven days of tennis played on over 65 courts in Belton and Anderson. The tournament ran on schedule throughout the week, with no rain delays. Entries were down to 425 players this year due to a conflict with schools throughout the state. A large number of juniors in the 18's were unable to play this year's tournament due to conflicts with their high school graduations. Singles and doubles championships were decided for both boys and girls in five age divisions (10's, 12's, 14's, 16's and 18's). Six additional Belton Classic singles champions were determined. The Belton Classic is a separate Level III South Carolina tournament consisting of players who do not advance through the qualifying into the main draw.
A highlight of the week was the annual 18's party held on Thursday, June 7. Katie Hangstefer, Wofford College women's tennis coach, was the guest speaker. The Dunlop Scholarship was presented to Zachary Sprouse of Hilton Head Island. Sprouse has completed the "grand slam of South Carolina junior tennis awards" by winning the Mark Hodgin Junior Sportsmanship Award (state award), the Malloy Evans Memorial Sportsmanship Award (given each year at the Palmetto), the Wilton McKinney Award (presented to the state's overall outstanding junior) and the Dunlop Scholarship. Sprouse went on to win the Boy's 18's doubles title later in the week, his first Palmetto title. Zachary will be attending Presbyterian College this fall where he will continue his tennis career.
Two champions added to previous Palmetto titles. Hayley Carter of Hilton Head Island won the Girl's 14's, her third straight singles title and fourth in the last five years. John Richmond of Pawley's Island won the Boy's 16's for his second Palmetto title. He won the 10's in 2004. Both Carter and Richmond also won the doubles championship in their respective age division. Carter's doubles title was her fourth, giving her eight total Palmetto titles in only five years. With six years of junior eligibility remaining, she has a great chance of breaking the tournament record for total titles won.
Three sportsmanship awards were also presented. Carlyle Williams of Florence was the recipient of the Kimberly Hampton Memorial Sportsmanship Award for the Girl's 12's. Jack O'Koniewski of Hilton Head Island was the recipient of the Matthew Strange Memorial Sportsmanship Award for the Boy's 12's. Jeri Reichel, who finished fourth in the Girl's 18's, was named the recipient of the Malloy Evans Memorial Sportsmanship Award.
Two junior girls played a lot of tennis during the tournament week, and one may have set a new record for the most singles matches played. Emily Erickson of Simpsonville won two matches in the Girl's 14's qualifying to advance to the main draw, where she won her first round match, then lost her second round match to the #3 seed. She then won three matches in the Feed-in Consolation before losing to Sabrina Drammis in the semifinals. The next day she lost 7/8 playoff, to give her nine singles matches during the week. Drammis was only one match behind with eight. She won one qualifying match to advance to the main draw where she lost in the first round to the #2 seed. She then won five straight FIC matches before losing in the FIC finals.
Jim Russell and Stephanie Hammond served as Tournament Referees. Maxine LeCroy was the Referee for the 12's and Mary Burgess for the 10's. Carey Washington was the chief umpire, and was joined by 29 USTA certified officials. Rex Maynard and Mark Smith were Tournament Directors and Rita Rector was the Tournament Chairman.
Maynard had this to say: "This year's Palmetto can be summed up in a few words......school, heat, great play and super kids. We really struggled with the school situation, and did our best to accommodate everyone's schedule. Our dates are locked in due to the dates of the Southern Closed Championships. To my knowledge, we only had one player who had to drop out because the schedule would not work. Our entries were down, but we still had all the top players, except in the 18's where we had kids graduating. We really missed that group; many have been coming to Belton for nine or ten years, and had to miss their last Palmetto. It was the hottest Palmetto in a while, with temperatures ranging between 96 and 100 degrees most of the week. The players did well, and we had very few heat related problems. This shows how well the players, parents and coaches are prepared for the conditions, and speaks highly of their training and preparation. We had great competition, as we always do. There were tough matches throughout the week, many going to three sets. South Carolina can be proud of the quality of play we have in our junior divisions. Finally, the kids were great. They maintained a positive attitude through the pressure of the state's qualifying tournament and some difficult conditions. We had very few issues with the players' behavior, and good sportsmanship was seen throughout the week. It was a great week, and we thank our staff, volunteers and sponsors.... and especially the players....for another successful Palmetto!"
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