Stratford Tennis Goes Pro

Stratford tennis players, parents, and even the head of school rallied with the pros at last week’s ButlerCars.com USTA Tennis Classic at the Jamie Kaplan Tennis Center.

The tournament, which ran between Sunday, Oct. 6, and Sunday, Oct. 13, was organized by Mercer University tennis coach Eric Hayes and featured 64 women players from as far away as Croatia and New Zealand.

“I had never played with anyone that good before, and I figured it would be a once in a lifetime experience,” said sophomore Elizabeth Copelan, who participated in Monday’s ProAm, a round robin tournament featuring mixed teams of pro players and amateurs.

In the singles tournament final on Sunday, Oct. 13, Anna Tatishvili, from the country of Georgia, defeated Ajla Tomljianovic of Croatia 6-3, 1-6, 7-5.

In the doubles final played later the same day, Kristi Boxx, of the U.S. and her partner Abigail Guthrie, from New Zealand, defeated Americans Emily Harman and Elizabeth Lumpkin in the Match Tiebreak, 10-4.

The USTA Tennis Classic  landed in Macon with the help of Mercer’s new head coach Hayes, who brought the tournament with him from Troy University, where he used to coach.  While Mercer did not have the facilities to host the tournament, Mercer Athletic Director Jim Cole – who is married to lower school teacher Ms. Gaylyn Cole and also has two children at Stratford – directed Hayes to Stratford head tennis coach Ms. Jamie Kaplan and Stratford’s tennis center.

In addition to several Stratford players and parents, the ProAm also featured Head of School Dr. Robert Veto, who is more comfortable on the golf course than the tennis court, but nonetheless agreed to showcase his highly amateur status.

“I stopped worrying and just decided to go represent Stratford and have a good time,” Veto said. “I had a ton of fun, and the pros were really receptive of all of the amateurs playing, and it was all around a good time”

Sophomore Sachin Khurana, who also played in the ProAm, also appreciated the chance to test his racket against the pros.

“It was very fun because  I got to play against professional tennis players, and as we played they would give everyone pointers on how to play. So it was a really fun learning experience,” Khurana said.