The Dalton, Ga., men’s 8.5 55-and-over tennis team won the Combo Doubles Southern Sectional Championships held in Dothan, Ala., recently. The tournament is sanctioned by the United States Tennis Association.
The championship featured representative teams from 11 states across the Southeast from the Carolinas to Arkansas. The North Georgia team consisted of Gary Herd and Gary Linn of Dalton; Rick Bettis and Glen Wear of Athens; Danny Carlson of Marietta, Ga.; Dave Dameron of Chattanooga, and Bob Taylor and Charlie Smith of Cleveland. The majority of the team has been together since 2004, when they captured a USTA national title. Since then, they have claimed five state titles and two Southern sectional championships.
The team has played together long enough to overcome most adversity including losing on the opening day of this year’s tournament. However, it managed to capture its pool and advance to the finals, winning 2-1 over South Carolina.
“What did we really have to lose at that point?” Herd asked when talking about the route to the title. “Losing on Friday may have been the best thing for us. It all worked out. Saturday we all decided to check out (of the hotel), but by day’s end we were in the finals. Luckily we were able to get rooms at the same place.”
While all of the players have a deep competitive streak running through them, Linn said it is the fun of being together as a team that brings him back year after year.
“I’ve always been a competitive person, especially when it comes to tennis,” Taylor said. “We have always had such a good camaraderie since we have been playing together for so long. Most of us have played together for 10 to 15 years, and we have played together for fun and for competition, both with and against each other.”
Everybody agreed the long ride back was a lot more enjoyable when they came back winners.
“It was all good, hard-nosed competition,” said Herd. “You go with the idea of having fun and playing your best. Who knows? Maybe even winning.”