National Mixed Clay Court Championships
October 2 – 6, 2019. Seabrook Island Club, Johns Island, SC
By Pam Simons
This mixed doubles tourney has been discovered! And it has bumped what was a very popular state and regional tournament into the big(ger) leagues.
Seabrook Island, 30 minutes south of Charleston, SC, has hosted the Alan Fleming (father of pro Peter Fleming, McEnroe’s doubles partner) tournament for 36 years. It well deserves its "Tournament of the Year" South Carolina title, with its laid back beach scene, beer truck, wine tent and ice cream freezer. But when TD Mike Kiser started adding USTA National Mixed Doubles Gold Ball events to it six years ago, entries swelled with some of the country’s best women players.
This year it drew Shannon Gordon-Carney from St. Louis with her doubles partner, as well as Susan Wright from her new home in Florida to take up first and second seedings in the Mixed 60s. They joined other national players from the South like Janet Moseley, Diane Barker, Sally Smith and Bunnie Jackson to fill out the 16 entrants draw. Gordon-Carney/Jonathon Fears won, defeating Wright/Kurt Chan in the finals, 2 and 3. Bunnie Jackson and husband Stuart edged out Diane Barker and husband Jack, 3 and 3 for the Bronze.
Mixed 60s winners: Shannon Gordon and Jonathon Fears
In the Mixed 50s, Gordon-Carney and Fears, playing down, were bumped out of the running in the semis by Susan Love from Charlotte, NC and her doubles partner Jonathan Sawyer. Also playing down, Bunnie Jackson and Stuart, seeded second, were likewise bumped out in the semis by unseeded local talent Laurie Yarbrough and Garth Thomson (photo right). The Jacksons withdrew from the ¾ playoffs, giving Fears/Gordon-Carney the Bronze ball. Yarbrough/Thomson had a great tournament, defeating Love/Sawyer in the finals 6-4, 6-7(5),7-5. First Gold Ball for Laurie, woo-hoo!
Mixed 50s winners: Laurie Yarbrough and Garth Thomson
The Mixed 40s was a round robin for five teams, offering spectators powerful tennis to watch while they munched on grilled burgers. Charleston’s Lizl Kotz and dubs partner Ben Cook won Gold, fellow Charlestonians Charly Rasheed/Kirstin Whitehead got Silver, Will Bull/Marissa Chapin got Bronze.
Mixed 40s winners: Liz Kotz and Ben Cook
The Mixed 70s had some surprises. Top seed and international player Brenda Carter and Hugh Thomson (from Norcross, GA) were ousted in the semis by legendary pro Bernie McGuire from Greensboro, GA and his doubles partner Ann Bradley from Charleston, West Virginia (photo right). In the lower half of the draw, second seed Ann Hunt, who plays nationally out of Hilton Head, and doubles partner William King from Atlanta were defeated in the semis by Sharon Greene, from Wilmington, NC and doubles partner Federico Gildemeister, 0 and 3. Bradley/McGuire took Gold in the finals. First Gold for Ann! Carter/Thomson won the Bronze over Hunt/King.
To put this all in perspective, there are only a few National mixed doubles Championships for women to play in. The most (three) are in the 30s and 60s age groups (Clay, Hard and Indoor). The 70s and 40s players have Seabrook’s clay and a hard court option in California. The rest (45s, 50s, 75s and 80s) have one National Mixed every year. I bet USTA would love to hear from those of us who enjoy playing Mixed Doubles. We want more!
Mixed 70s winners: Bernie McGuire and Ann Bradley