The Special Populations Unified Doubles tennis tournament was played for the 10th consecutive year in Belton June 21-22. The tournament featured 40 special athletes competing as team in doubles with a unified partner. Matches were played at the Belton Tennis Center and Leda Poore Park. The tournament is presented by USTA Southern, hosted by the Belton Tennis Association and sponsored by Chick-fil-A of Anderson and a number of other local supporters.
The Belton Area Museum hosted the athletes and partners for lunch at the historic Belton depot Friday, which includes a visit to the South Carolina Tennis Hall of Fame. The Chick-fil-A visited, had a great time with the athletes and was part of the group picture. The athletes, partners, chaperones and volunteers enjoyed a special treat Friday night with a pizza party at the Listening Room on Main followed by entertainment from the Combo Kings…..with a lot of fun and dancing! The Belton Tennis Association provided lunch Saturday, which was followed by the closing awards ceremony.
The athletes and partners were divided into 6 teams with each team wearing the appropriate color shirt. The yellow team won the team competition and every player and unified partner received an award. Two sportsmanship awards, named in honor of Tournament Director Rex Maynard, were presented to Kristin Locatelli from Lexington, S. C. and Dennis Haratine from Atlanta.
Tournament Director Rex Maynard said: “We are really happy to be able to host this great event in Belton. It brings together a great group of people who care more about others than themselves. We have winners and those that don’t win, but no losers in this event. We host some larger, more prestigious tennis events in Belton, but none are more important to our community and Belton Tennis than SPUD. It’s a great example of many people working together for the common good. The smiles on the faces of the athletes make it all worthwhile. This year we were able to play all of our matches at the Belton Tennis Center and Leda Poore Park, and it gave the athletes more opportunities to interact and have fun with each other and the unified partners. It’s hard to believe this was our 10th year, but as they say….time flies when you’re having fun! We appreciate all the local support that helps make this great event possible!”
A number of local volunteers worked with Maynard with the tournament including a number of unified partners, including players on the BHP Girl’s tennis team and their coach Craig Joyner. Frances Russell, Maxine LeCroy, Sandra Gaillard, Mary Boiter, Jean Anne Maynard, Kathleen Maynard, Brice Maynard, Weezer Maynard and Jenni West helped with the meals and parties.
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