Local Netters Shine at Pinehurst Junior Tennis Classic
Local players stood out at the Pinehurst Junior Tennis Classic last week.
Sanctioned by the United States Tennis Association (USTA), this year’s tournament marked the 67th time the annual event has been contested locally. All the matches took place on the courts at the Pinehurst Resort Tennis Center from July 14-15.
Union Pines’ Melissa Tally and John Dangerfield took home titles in the girls’ and boys’ 16 singles, respectively.
Grey Hamil-ton, a rising freshman at Pinecrest and a resident of Southern Pines, took home the 18 boys’ title.
The 5-foot-8 lefty phenom is a four-star collegiate recruit, according to tennisrecruting.net. He is also ranked 39th in the boys’ class of 2015 RPI Rankings (presented by AGI), ranked fifth in the state and 72nd nationwide.
“I have been playing and practicing a lot in the spring and summer, so I felt like I was ready for this tournament,” the 14-year-old Hamilton said. “I played really well and performed as I thought I would. There was definitely a lot of preparation involved to be able play to that level and win this title.”
Hamilton has had a lot of success at the Classic. He has won five championships in seven years competing at the event.
Other local contestants included boys’ 18 runner-up Garrett Klumpar, of Pinehurst; and Pinecrest rising sophomore Caroline Decker, of Pinehurst.
“As most of our local folks know, the Pinehurst Classic is, I believe, second only to one other USTA tournament in North Carolina for consecutive years,” said Union Pines’ longtime head tennis coach John Frye.
“Supported by the Southern Pines Parks and Recreation and Sandhills Tennis Association, our local event has served the community, region and state for dozens of years,” said Frye. “In this time, the quality of the field, particularly in certain years, has been phenomenal. Numerous players trading volleys in our event have gone on to both college and professional stardom — including John Lucas, who matriculated at the University of Maryland and went on to professional careers in both basketball and tennis.”
Tally and Dangerfield, both from Whispering Pines, are the No. 1 players for the Union Pines program.
“It felt great to win the tournament,” said Tally, a rising junior for the Lady Vikings. “There were some really talented players in my division and coming out as champion was a true honor.
“This tournament's surface was clay, which I really enjoy playing on. I practice on clay courts at National every Friday, and I like the way that the clay surface slows the game down and really lets you have time between shots to dial in the next one.”
Last year Tally won the consolation in the girls’ 16. She also claimed the consolation championship in the girls’ 14 (2009), and won the consolation in the girls’ 12 (2007.)
“This year was the first time I was champion in the main draw,” she said. “I came out of the tournament excited and motivated for our upcoming school women's tennis season.”
Tally’s competitor in the finals was Kelly Maroney, of Scottsdale, Ariz.
“Maroney was a great player that was able to run down lots of balls and got most everything back,” said Tally. “We had lots of long points and rallies in the championship match and we battled back and forth the whole match — but I really started to be able to dial in and hit my shots the way I wanted to after we had played a few games.”
In the championship match, Tally fell behind 1-3 in the first set, before rallying back to win it 6-3. The second set stayed on serve until 4-4. She then got a service break to go up 5-4, but then lost her serve to bring it all square at 5-all.
Tally then got another service break and finished the match off on her serve — taking four straight points to notch a straight set 6-3, 7-5 victory and claim the title.
“I was very pleased with my play the whole tournament,” she said, “and feel that it really helped me to see the aspects of my game that I need to focus on and fine tune before the season starts in just a few short weeks.”
Over the course of her first two years at Union Pines, Tally is 67-10 overall. She won the 2010 Cape Fear Valley Conference singles championship and was the Mid-East regional runner-up, making her just the second Lady Vike to achieve that feat since the school moved up to its current 3A classification.
Dangerfield is a two-time CFVC singles champion for Union Pines and has qualified for the state tennis finals in each of his first two seasons as a Viking.
“I think it’s a great tournament because of the beautiful facility, and the skill level of the players,” said Dangerfield.
“I have played this tournament the last four years, and I’ve encountered some good competition,” he added. “My results have been sub-par, but I had great experiences nonetheless. So it felt awesome to win because it was a tournament I’ve always wanted to win before.”
He defeated Taylor Boole, of Raleigh, 7-5, 6-0 in the title match.
“Taylor was a strong and consistent player,” Dangerfield said, “and the championship match was just a hard-fought battle between both of us.”
Including two incoming freshman, Frye had 21 Union Pines’ players compete in the 2011 Pinehurst Junior Classic, which had five age categories (10, 12, 14, 16, 18) in both boys’ and girls’ USTA tournament play.
“Melissa and John are coming off an extraordinary school campaigns, which saw them reach the state high school 3A tournament championships,” said Frye.
“The 21 entrants that came from the Moore County Park and Recreation program represents a high-water-mark for USTA participation from our area,” he added. “All of our players performed well, with the majority winning at least one match — with Will Hart and Jordan Allen consolation champions.”
Contact F.W. Manning II at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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