Second set for a couple of lifelong friends

Monday, June 6, 2005

It's been more than forty years since Joe Childress and Lewis Conley were paired in a tennis tournament. Childress, 60, and Conley, 58, were teammates on the first Sikeston High School tennis team in 1963.

They reunited on Sunday to take second place in the "B" doubles division at the Nunnelee Tournament.

"He's (Conley) a hometown boy and, when he comes here, we've played a time or two just for grins," said Childress, "but I don't remember us ever competing in a tournament together after high school."

Conley, after a stellar collegiate career at Southeast Missouri State University, left for St. Louis where he's been a teacher and longtime tennis coach at Parkway West High School.

Childress, on the other hand, quit playing tennis for about 25 years before becoming active again in about '92.

Said Childress, of their tournament reunion, "We decided that we were going to change the lines and move them in a little. Lewis said he wasn't going to run for anything and I told him I don't chase lobs."

The twosome, however, held their own against younger opponents, losing 7

-5, 7-5 in the evening's final match, to the Sikeston team of Joe Recker and Danny Conley.

"Joe (Childress) played well and I had a good weekend…did well in the singles," said Conley, who advanced to the "B" singles semifinals. "(I) got a little tired this morning and ran out of gas, but we had a big three-set win last night to put us in the quarters. We had a good tournament. It's good to see the courts being used, the lights (up) and there was a great turnout. "It's always good to come back to Sikeston."

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