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South Carolina tennis players to host tournament to benefit flood victims

November 11, 2015 02:48 PM

By Jonathon Braden, USTA South Carolina

Marlene Neal was enjoying herself at the Big Dam Jam Benefit, the music festival held last month to raise money for people affected by the flood.

Neal, a longtime USTA League player, then thought: If musicians can organize an event to help, surely tennis players can do something as well.


Next weekend, they will.

Neal and others will host the South Carolina Tennis Family Benefit, a friendly men’s and women’s tennis round robin, to help people who’ve been affected by the flood. The benefit will take place at 2 p.m. Nov. 22 at the Cayce Tennis and Fitness Center, 1120 Fort Congaree Trail. A minimum donation of $20 is required, and all proceeds will go to the American Red Cross SC Flood Relief or the Harvest Hope Food Bank.

Neal, who lives in Lexington, said her home and family were unaffected by last month’s flooding. But she knows people who were less lucky, including friends she’s made through tennis.

“There are tons of us who feel very fortunate and just want to help and give back in some small way,” Neal said. “We all realize that it could have happened to us.”

The round robin will feature 20 courts of laid-back doubles, with players rotating every seven games so everyone can meet new people. Organizers also will have a silent auction, with Conquest beer and Villa Tronco cheesecake, as well as tennis lessons, up for bid.

Neal said she’s been impressed by the generosity shown by local businesses and the tennis community. The Cayce tennis complex has donated the cost of court time, and a friend of Neal’s has agreed to donate the tennis balls. The donations will let all the proceeds go to charity.

Prospective players don’t need a doubles partner to register. To sign up, email Neal at or text her, (803) 447-7399, by Sunday. In your note, share your name, gender and NTRP level.


High school tennis players will have a way to stay active and gain more match experience this winter. The Midlands High School Junior Team Tennis Winter League starts with a jamboree at 2 p.m. Sunday at the Rawls Creek Tennis and Swim Club, 2121 Lake Murray Blvd. At the event, you can register for the six-week season of team tennis, which starts Nov. 22. For more information, go to or email


Congratulations to all of the USTA South Carolina league teams from the Midlands that advanced to recent league state championships. The following captains helped their teams win a league state championship or finish as a finalist: Debbie Laney, Angie Rucker, Jessica Kivett, Debbie Gee, Tiffany Clark, Patty Shoultz, Randy Watts, Wanda Rauseo, Sandra Penland, Bonnie Sayles, Christine LaCola, Donna Saleeby, Cole Taylor, Thomas Backwinkel, Baxter Donaldson, Gil Pipes, Donovan Houston, Janet Thames, Ashley McCall and Jordan Hunter.


The 2015 USTA Junior Team Tennis 14 and Under National Championships will be held Dec. 3-6 in Lexington County. The championships were scheduled to take place Oct. 15-18, but the floods forced event organizers to reschedule the championships. Some of the best team tennis players in the country will compete at the event. For more information, go to