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Build it, and they will come.

January 29, 2004 08:11 PM

Some 125 players of all stripes, strokes and strategies braved the chilly Grand Opening of Chaplin Park Public Tennis Center Saturday (10th).  But the sun came out and warmup-clad crowd was treated to a Stan Smith and son Ramsey exhibition, Stan and Scott Nichols in a one-up, one-down set with SC-ranked wheelchair players Dave Rogers and Bob Masella, free lessons provided by HHI pros and free lunch (dogs 'n' burgers) by Island Recreation Center.

USTA South Carolina reps Graham Cox and Cassie Herritage of Columbia joined in the presentation as well as Chaplin host pro Cameron Everett and Cecily Steele, director of the Rec Center's wheelchair tennis program. HHI pros were on court with free instruction--Matt Wuller, Mike O'Regan, Angus McLean, Brian O'Donnell, Edward "Woody" Wood, Tapi Hayrinen, Rob Jones, Scott Nichols, Tom Coulton.

The four-lighted-court Chaplin tennis center is in a newly opened mid-island park that includes lighted soccer and baseball fields, a dog park and a basketball court--all a few minutes walk from oceanfront. Public Tennis, Inc., was formed to fund the tennis court contruction. Island Rec has begun adult and junior programs as well as supervising the courts and those at the Town of HHI's Cordillo Courts complex.

Four new USA League Adult teams will be playing out of Chaplin--2.5 Women, 3.0 Men, 3.5 Men and 4.0 Women. They will be part of the Tennis Association of HHI's Spring league season that has 139 teams ready to start play at month's end.