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Myrtle Beach 4.5 ladies want to stay "undefeated"

May 1, 2014 08:00 AM

Cindy Huggins’ 55 and over team from Myrtle Beach was on such a roll they didn’t even lose a game in qualifying for this weekend’s USTA South Carolina Adult 55 and Over State League Championship.

In fact, Huggins’ team didn’t even drop a point.

That seems almost unbelievable, right?

Well, stick with me.

Huggins’ team didn’t even lose a game partly because they didn’t even play a game – or a point – in order to qualify for this weekend’s championships on Hilton Head Island.

In the Grand Strand Tennis League, there weren’t enough players in the age group and competition level Huggins’ team plays in – 55 and over, level 4.5 – to form two teams. (Adult tennis teams qualify for USTA SC state league championships by advancing through their local leagues.)

But the lack of teams wasn’t because of a lack of players.

Nearly 300 people played league tennis in the 55 and over division in the Grand Strand Tennis League this past spring, said Susie Honeycutt, the coordinator of the Grand Strand league.

Most 55 and older players, though, aren’t rated as high as Huggins and her teammates.

For perspective, beginning tennis players are typically rated “2.0” or “2.5” on the National Tennis Rating Program, what the USTA uses to organizes its leagues so all matches are competitive.

A 6.0 rating is for a player who has “had intensive training for national tournament competition.”

Therefore, Huggins and her teammates are closer to becoming national tournament players than they are to becoming beginning tennis players.

"This is a great bunch of ladies," Honeycutt said. "It is so hard to find 4.5 ladies in our area, and this group always comes through to help out."

Huggins has a more modest viewpoint: “We’re just trying not to get any worse.”

Their ratings are especially impressive after you learn when they started playing tennis.

Six of the eight players on the team, including Huggins, started playing tennis when they were adults.

In college, Huggins played volleyball and basketball at Francis Marion University in Florence. After college, she wanted to keep exercising and stay in good shape.

When you get out of college,” she said, “there’s nothing else to do.”

She started taking lessons from a Florence tennis pro, and she’s loved it for the past 25 years.

Through USTA league tennis, Huggins has stayed healthy and met plenty of friends. “We enjoy the social aspect more than anything,” she said.

Every month or so, her team has a girls night and goes out for dinner.

At league championships, they reconnect with friends they’ve made around the state because they’ve all been enjoying USTA leagues for so long.

She and her teammates know all the other women players from Columbia, Lexington, Hilton Head Island, Charleston and other South Carolina cities.

“Most of us are all good friends,” Huggins said.

She’s hoping her team will be good players this weekend as well, although she’s not sure what to expect.

The league championships will be only the third time the team has practiced together. Their distance from each other and their work schedules have made it hard for the team to practice.

Two of the eight live in Manning, which is about two hours from Myrtle Beach. Another teammate lives in north Myrtle Beach, about 30 minutes north of Myrtle Beach. And another lives in Garden City, which is about 20 minutes south of Myrtle Beach.

On top of that, two of the players also work jobs that require more than 40 hours a week.

Click here to learn more about meeting new people and enjoying fun exercise through USTA leagues.