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Keiger, Helpingstine Claim Grandfather-Grandson Title at USTA National Hard Court Championships

January 2, 2007 02:33 PM

By: Marianna Dunn Tate, NCTA

The USTA National Hard Court Championships were held in late November in the beautiful weather of La Jolla, CA. North Carolina’s Ronald Keiger, of Wilmington and his grandson Chase Helpingstine, of Chapel Hill, were able to make the journey across the nation. After all was said and done, they added a set of gold balls to their trophy collection when they claimed the Grandfather-Grandson doubles title.

This Grandfather and Grandson combo both have very active tennis lives. Just look up Ronald in the League TennisLink system. Then research Chase’s successful junior career and his letter of intent to play for Elon University. They certainly fit the bill as the top seed for their division in the tournament.

But first, let’s take a look at the special history this pair has with the Grandfather-Grandson division of the USTA National Championships. In 2003, they competed in the pilot version of the division, making it all the way to the finals. They wanted to contend for titles again in ’04 and ’05, but were unable to make the trips due to their own very active personal schedules. So when November of 2006 rolled around, they made time in their calendars and jumped on the chance to play in the Hard Court Championships. They were very excited and ready to play again in the high-level national competition.

Once they found themselves in the finals of November’s tournament, they realized they had a score to settle when they faced Larry and Chase Huebner. This being the very same duo that had denied them of the title in ’03. To keep their spirits up, they proudly donned their blue Carolina shirts and walked on the court with their heads high.

After winning the first set, they quickly found themselves serving for the match at 5-4. Unable to put the second set away and facing defeat in the third, Chase simply told his grandfather, “I’ve got it.”

Ronald knew “by the tone of his voice” that they were not going to just rollover and let the title slip away again. They rallied to take the final set 6-4.

On the way home, they “guarded” their new shiny trophies and look forward to defending their title. Ronald, in particular, was very hopeful that he would have a chance to team up with his grandson again. He was encouraged to think he would have several years’ worth of opportunities after watching a 93 year-old grandfather play in the tournament.

“This [title] was the first for both of us, hopefully it won’t be the last,” says Ronald.

We all hope so, too.




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