Belton Tennis Hosts Special Populations Event

June 22, 2010 02:08 PM

The first ever Southern Special Populations Unified Doubles (SPUD) tournament was held in Belton, S.C. this past weekend. Special athletes from South Carolina, North Carolina and Georgia participated. The tournament format matched a special athlete with a unified partner in doubles competition. The athletes were divided evenly in four teams, and competition was aimed at the team concept. Matches were played at the Belton Tennis Center, Leda Poore Park and Belton-Honea Path High School.

The tournament was organized by Jack Barker, a member of the South Carolina and Southern Special Populations Committee, and Rex Maynard, a member of the Belton Tennis Association Board. Jim Hamm of Atlanta, chairman of the USTA Southern Section Special Populations Committee, and Mary Smith of Savannah, Ga. assisted with running the event. Laura Barth, USTA South Carolina Manager of Volunteer Development and Special Programs, played as a unified partner.

Tournament sponsors included the Belton Tennis Association, the Palmetto Championships, Wachovia, Pepsi, Dunlop and Chick-fil-a. The First Baptist Church Community Missions Team hosted the group for Saturday night dinner and games.

Barker had this to say about the tournament: "We arranged for this event to be played in Belton due to its geographical location as well as Belton being the home of the South Carolina Tennis Hall of Fame. The special athletes competed in a team competition format for the first time. We appreciate the support of USTA South Carolina and the USTA Southern Section. The support of our sponsors made the event possible, and we especially thank the First Baptist Church for their hospitality in hosting the social interaction at the dinner and dance on Saturday night. It was hot, but everyone gave it their best and had a great time!"

Maynard said: "Just a week ago Belton hosted the Palmetto Championships with 415 of the state’s best junior players. There was lots of hoopla and press coverage and everyone was out to win. This weekend we hosted 34 very special players, whose focus was on meeting new friends, showing good sportsmanship and having fun! It was great to see these athletes doing their best with the abilities they have. We can all learn from their example. We’ve hosted some big and important tournaments and events in Belton in the past, but none more important and more rewarding than this SPUD event. We’re proud to have hosted the first Southern SPUD tournament in Belton, and look forward to them coming back every year!"