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OPC set for annual junior doubles tournament

The biggest junior tennis tournament to be held at the FNC Tennis Center so far is set to begin today.

The annual Oxford Park Commission Junior Doubles Championships will begin at 4 p.m. at John Leslie Courts and will continue Saturday. The tournament, which also includes mixed doubles, will feature 59 teams in age divisions ranging from 18-and-under to 10-and-under.

Up to 20 courts will be used to accommodate 118 players, most of which are coming in from north and south Mississippi as well as Tennessee. But approximately 75 percent of the participants are from Lafayette County, OPC tennis manager William Foreman said.

“In the junior tennis world for the park commission, it will be one of the biggest (tournaments),” Foreman said.

It’s the only doubles-focused tournament in the area, something Foreman said the park commission started three years ago at the urging of local high school tennis coaches Louis Nash (Oxford) and Debbie Swindoll (Lafayette) in order to better prepare their players for the kind of matches they play during their season.

“Five-sevenths of every high school match is doubles,” Foreman said. “There’s only two singles courts for every team match in Mississippi, and it works out really well that with these two great programs here in town, we got the courts, so let’s do this tournament. Let’s make it happen. They’ve been supported really well with all their players playing in it.”

The tournament has grown each year with this year’s participants more than doubling the turnout each of the previous two years. The biggest draw, Foreman said, is mixed doubles in the 18U division, which will consist of 14 teams.

“In the past, we’ve had to schedule around some other tournaments or events that kind of cut into the high school season a little bit,” Foreman said. “This year, we were able to get it in just before the high school season starts. Schools have been practicing for almost a month now. They’re starting to figure out what teams they want playing, and they can have those teams go out and practice in a match environment.”

The tournament will end around 8 p.m. Saturday, Foreman said. Admission is free for the public.