Running the state’s largest local league and second largest in the South for four years has satisfied Ken Edwards’ current thirst for tennis leadership. The mild-mannered, well-liked president has informed the board of the Lowcountry Tennis Association that he will step down at the end of the year but hopes to remain on the board.
Edwards has more important things planned for the coming months— spending quality time with his son, Jonathan, a high school senior and a promising college prospect who won the 2012 state hard courts. The father and son have been making numerous junior tournament trips, and now they’re looking at colleges.
“It’s his last year at home, and he needs support,” said Edwards, a 52-year-old medical staffing/executive search headhunter who resides on the Isle of Palms.
Edwards also wants to give his business and 4.0 tennis game more attention. After all, it’s been a difficult job pushing through his agenda to a sometimes resistant board and state tennis association.
The LCTA had approximately one-third of the state’s 18-and-over spring league tennis participants, and more teams than nine of the other 12 local leagues in the state combined. Yet, at playoff time the LCTA receives much the same number of state playoff berths as far smaller leagues such as Aiken, Greenwood, Rock Hill and Spartanburg, each of which fielded less than 10 percent as many 18-and-over teams as the LCTA in 2013.
To combat that situation, Edwards proposed a move to split the LCTA into two units, but state league tennis officials changed its rules to deny that request. As a result, gas-unfriendly, hour-long weeknight trips unfortunately probably will continue to be common occurrences in the local league.
Blake calls Pratt
Local junior standout Jared Pratt has had a great tennis year, but a disappointing one off the court. Already ranked as high as No. 5 in the South in his first year in 14-and-under, Pratt has put his tennis career on hold for much of the next 12 months as a result of surgery late last month for the curved-spine condition scoliosis.
The teen-ager received a special phone call on Wednesday from another tennis star who has experienced the effects of scoliosis. Former world’s No. 4-ranked James Blake reached out to Pratt for a phone call that Jared’s mother, Diane, said gave her son a big lift. “Jared was excited,” she said.
Of course, Blake retired from the pro tour during last month’s U.S. Open.
Currently online-schooled as an eighth-grader, Pratt plans to enroll at Bishop England for the 2014-15 school year.
Half of a six-man national championship 40 open team is from Charleston: Brian Burke, Martin Zumpft and Phil Whitesell. Charleston Pro Tennis League co-founder Chris Henderson, who now resides in Tampa, Fla., was captain of Southern Hendy, a 2-1 winner over Texas in the national final two weeks ago in Las Vegas.
Two-time defending Class AA SCHSL girls state champion Bishop England demonstrated its strength by scoring a 4-3 win over Class AAA power Myrtle Beach in the final of the rain-interrupted Bishop England Invitational.
Jeanette Weiland of Charleston, 82, has been selected for the S.C. Tennis Hall of Fame. Weiland won 21 gold, bronze and silver balls at national tournaments after the age of 65. Bob Allsbrook of Spartanburg also was selected.
The recent Alan Fleming Senior Clay Court Championships raised $52,000 for the Hospice of Charleston Foundation. Local singles winners included Andy Steingold (men’s 60), Frank Meade (men’s 80), Diane Barker (women’s 50) and Susie Peiffer (women’s 60).
Brenda Carter of Charleston won the 65-and-over mixed doubles crown and was a finalist in doubles in the recent ITF world individual championships in Austria. She also played on the runner-up U.S. team in the women’s 65 world team championships.
Legend Oaks pro Andy Steingold will be the recipient of the state’s male player of the year award during USTA South Carolina’s Dec. 7 annual celebration at Wild Dunes Resort, while Maybank Tennis Center pro Toni Young will receive the John Newcombe Pro award. Other local winners are most improved junior boy Scotty Cameron of the Isle of Palms, the Floyd family of St. George and the Kiawah Island Junior Championships.
Reach James Beck at firstname.lastname@example.org. See his columns on pro tennis at ubitennis.com/english.