By Reed DeSalvo \ email@example.com
The Meridian Star
Tennis players across the State of Mississippi made the trek to Northwood Country Club, to test their skills against some of the top amateur players from across the state.
The event is associated with the State Games of Mississippi, allowing for plentiful competition among the participants.
"This is a great event," Northwood Country Club tennis pro Anthony Hiatt said. "We have a lot of local players from Meridian and the surrounding areas. This is great to give our local kids a chance to play in a competitive tournament."
Competitors will use the United States Tennis Association-sanctioned event to further boost their position in the season-long standings.
"Every tournament is important," Newton County High School junior Brandon Huddleston said. "You always want to do your best and represent your school, family and how hard you've worked. But you want to accumulate as much points as possible so you'll get a better ranking and a higher seed in later tournaments."
Added Hiatt, "We've got some great talent out here. Most of these kids are playing to try and get points for the state rankings. If you win this tournament, you get 150 points."
The tournament additionally serves as an opportunity for competitors to prove they are ready for more distinguished tournaments down the road.
"I just want to show my coach (Newton County tennis coach Chad Bond) how I am improving," Newton County senior Graham Murphree said. "I want to qualify to go play more experienced kids at the State Games of America.”
Additionally, the tournament serves as an avenue for the high school tennis stars to interact and develop relationship with fellow peers.
“You play several kids in tournaments, and you get to know them,” Huddleston said. “You might be there doubles partner or you might be facing them. But you get used to their game, and you get to know them as individuals and are able to build a bond with them.”
Yet there will be no shortness of competitive play at these state-sponsored games, with the majority of participants having harnessed their craft since a young age.
"Most of the players out here started when they were either 3 or 4-years-old," Graham Murphree said. "It's a good experience because this tournament not only has the top local players, but also some great players from other parts of the state."
Added Huddleston, "This is a pretty good tournament with a lot of great individual talent. You have to play well to do well."
The tournament will be played through the weekend starting at 9 a.m. today and Sunday.
"It's always great to see how our students (at Northwood) do when they get into a real match," Hiatt said. "All of the kids' families are here, and a lot of time their high school coaches are around to help support them play."