by jonathan branch
photos by jonathan branch and josiah connelly
Parents, players pair up in tennis tourney
Rain could not wash away the Morgan County High School tennis teams’ family tournament last week. Parents, players and tennis coach Jodi Robbins resumed the annual tournament Wednesday after it was delayed the week before due to rain.
The delay, however, did not slow down the tandem of Wolfgang and Pete Busenitz, who toppled defending champions Nathan and Dave Neuhart in the one set final match to take the 2012 trophy.
“Winning this is the best feeling for a non-pressure situation,” said Wolfgang Busenitz. “I thought we did good.”
The tournament, held annually, dates back to before Robbins took the reins of the tennis program at MCHS. Prior to the season banquet each year, each member of the girls and boys tennis team picks a parent or sibling to play with in the tournament. The teams square off in a single-elimination tournament to see who will have their names placed on the trophy.
“This is a big deal,” said Robbins. “It’s competitive.”
That competitiveness was most evident in the finals when the Busenitz team toppled the Neuharts, who won the tournament in 2011.
“Once you get to this round (the championship), it’s cutthroat tennis,” said Robbins.
Wolfgang’s carefree approach helped the Busenitz duo take the trophy, according to his father, who admitted keeping up with his son’s level of play was a challenge.
“I probably felt more pressure than [Wolfgang] did,” said Pete Busenitz, Wolfgang’s father. “He was loose and played very smart today. He hit a lot of winners.”
This year’s champions defeated Sam Cooper and his father, Dave, in the semifinals, while the Neuharts defeated the mother-son team of Kathy and Caleb Plumley.
The tournament, which includes a cookout, is set up in a first-to-three format, with the winning teams needing to win three games before the other team, until the finals. In the championship round, two teams play one set, and the winner of the set wins the tournament.
“Last year, we didn’t even make the quarterfinals,” said the elder Busenitz. “The matches are so short that if you’re not sharp—just a couple missed shots—you could lose.”
The tournament, which consisted of close to 40 teams this year, was originally set up for parents and players to play as a team, but in recent years, members in the tennis program have played with siblings, other relatives and teachers.
“I’ll have parents e-mailing me weeks before the tournament to find out who they are playing,” said Robbins. “It’s a bit like “American Idol.” It’s all fun and games for the first couple of rounds, and then it gets serious.”
Printed in the May 31, 2012 edition