Meridian Star

June 15, 2014

Competition heats up on tennis court

By Reed DeSalvo / The Meridian Star
The Meridian Star

MERIDIAN —     Avery Weed has always had a love for sports.

    Since she was at a young age, Weed always favored a court or field rather than a couch.

    “She’s been throwing and catching a ball since she’s been able to stand,” Scott Weed said, Avery’s father. “She could always hit everything, so I decided to see if she could hit a tennis ball and she thrived.”

    Avery has managed to harness that ability to become one of the area’s top players despite her young age.

    “She’s one of our top young players,” Northwood Country Club tennis pro Anthony Hiatt said. “She is playing up quite a few years, and has actually won a couple 12-and-under tournaments this summer. We are all extremely excited about her development.”

    Saturday, Avery added to her accomplishments this summer as she weaved her way through her competition in dazzling fashion. Avery placed each shot with precision and accuracy in an attempt to wear down her opponent, and eventually took home a gold medal after winning the round-robin tournament in the 12-and-under division at the State Games of Mississippi at Northwood Country Club.

    “This is awesome,” Avery said. “When (Hiatt) gave me the medal, my feeling was “boom, I did it.”

    Added Scott, “This is amazing.”

    The secret to her success?

    “We knew at a very young age that she had the drive and passion for tennis that a lot of the other kids,” Hiatt said.

    Added Scott, “Since she was 3 or 4-years-old, we’ve been out here working on her game two or three times per week.”

    Yet with so much time spent on the courts, Scott worries that Avery may be too committed to the sport in which she loves.

    “It’s really neat, but it’s also scary as a father,” Scott said. “I’m scared she may be doing too much, but she’s always willing to go practice and go hit some tennis balls because It’s what she loves to do.”

    Added Avery, “I love to watch tennis and I just love to play it.”

    Not to be outdone, 13-year-old Ethan Clopton claimed victories in his two matches, 6-3; 6-4 and 6-2; 6-0, to advance to the tournament finals Sunday.

    Like Weed, Clopton developed his love for the game at a young age.

    “My dad (Bruce) was a college tennis player,” Ethan said, who will be a freshman at Meridian High School this fall. “He kind of taught me about the game when I was younger and I just fell in love with it then.”

    Clopton has managed to develop his skills on the court with a lot of hard effort and dedication to the game of tennis.

    “Waking up in the morning and just heading to the courts for practice, I love that,” Clopton said. “It’s a lot of fun just to play.”  

    Clopton will square off against Jack Walters in the finals at Northwood Country club at 9 a.m. today.

    "No, I’m not really nervous,” Clopton said. “I’m just ready to play.”

    Ethan is also the son of Sherri Clopton.