The Palmetto Championships was completed Tuesday afternoon in Belton with the singles and doubles finals. The tournament, which began Friday and is the South Carolina Junior Qualifying Tournament, had a record 475 players from throughout the state, and 1,046 matches were played on 57 courts in Belton, Anderson and Clemson. Championships were determined in 5 age division in singles and doubles for both boys and girls. See the attached media report for the results of the championship matches.
The tournament experienced rain delays on 3 of the 5 days, but managed to complete play as scheduled on Tuesday. Three sportsmanship awards were also presented:
- Kimberly Hampton Memorial Sportsmanship Award-Keira Stewart, Simpsonville
- Matthew Strange Memorial Sportsmanship Award-Nathan Pitts, Greer
- Malloy Evans Memorial Sportsmanship Award-Madison Dillon, Hilton Head
Belton’s Lauren Harrelson became the first local player to make it to the singles finals since 2007, where she lost to Allie Bittner of Greer 4-2, 4-0 in the championship match. Marissa Trumbull was the last local player to make the singles finals, also in the Girl’s 10U division. Harrelson’s was the #5 seed and won four singles matches (including two upsets of higher seeded players) before falling to Bittner, which included:
- First Round: Defeated Hailey Poplin, Hilton Head 4-0, 4-0
- Second Round: Defeated Lani Sturgeon, Columbia 4-2, 4-0
- Quarterfinals: Defeated #4 seed Harper Stone, Abbeville 4-0, 4-0
- Semifinals: Defeated #1 seed Mia El-Kheddiwi, Charleston 5-3, 1-4, 1-0
- Finals: Lost #3 seed Allie Bittner, Greer 4-2, 4-0
Lauren partnered with Chandler Dailey of Clinton in doubles where they were seeded third. After a first round bye they defeated Briana Bird and Marissa Strickland of Mt. Pleasant 6-1. They lost in the semifinals to Sarah Anne Smoak of Camden and Harper Stone of Abbeville 6-1. Smoak and Stone went on to win the doubles championship in the next match.
During the Palmetto Fling on Saturday night the tournament awarded their Honorary Chairman’s Award to Kai Nitsche with Dunlop Sports. Nitsche competed in the Palmetto during his junior years and has been with Dunlop as their Director of Racket Sports for over 15 years. Dunlop has been a presenting sponsor of the Palmetto Championships for over 30 years and Nitsche has worked closely with Maynard in promoting and selecting the Dunlop Scholarship each year. When presenting the award Maynard said: “Our Honorary Chairman’s Award goes to someone who has contributed their time and effort to the success of the Palmetto Championships. Dunlop and Kai have been loyal supporters of the Palmetto Championships for many years. Since the early 1980’s our slogan has been ‘Only a Dunlop Bounces On A Belton Court!’ Kai has been instrumental in continuing Dunlop’s support and he is great to work with and very helpful with the selection and presentation of the scholarship each year. We’re proud to have him as our 2017 honoree!” Also during The Fling Nitsche presented the Dunlop Scholarship to Spencer Brown of Spartanburg. Spencer was unable to attend due to an injury and was represented by his coach Cornelius Jordan.
The tournament is presented by the Belton Tennis Association and sponsored by Chick-fil-A of Anderson. The players who performed well in the Palmetto Championships will advance to the 9-state Southern Championships. Tournament Director Rex Maynard said: “The large number of entries this year made playing the event, but we were fortunate to have enough courts to get it done on schedule. The rain was a real nuisance and caused some scheduling issues. We appreciate the patience of the players, parents and coaches as we worked through the delays. We had some great matches, with the players from the coast dominating the winners this year. South Carolina is fortunate to have so many great junior players with high level on-court skills and good sportsmanship.!”
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