Nunnelee draws top netters
SIKESTON -- Great weather and fine tennis talent combined to make the 15th annual Ed Nunnelee Memorial Tennis Tournament a success.
"I was very happy with the turnout," said first-year tournament director Chris Matthews. "The talent was as strong and deep as it's ever been and I think a lot of folks came away with a good experience. We look forward to having an as big or bigger draw next year."
Matthews, grateful for no repeat of last year's final-day rainout, said, "They were predicting thunderstorms, but we dodged them."
Two Tennessee players walked off with the top prizes in the men's open division championships on Sunday.
Danny Somerville of Paris, Tenn., in his first Nunnelee tournament, captured the singles title, defeating fellow Tennessean, Todd Tilghman of Union City in the final, 6-3, 6-4.
Tilghman, making his fourth appearance in the tournament, teamed with Somerville to claim the doubles championship with a 6-2, 6-3 win over the duo of Joe Navrkal of Metropolis, Ill., and Joey Sloan of Paducah, Ky.
"We've played together twice and won both of them," said Somerville. "We usually play against each other a lot in our area."
Both agreed that they would return to defend their championships.
"Of course," said Tilghman. "This is a great tournament."
Peruvian Daniela Garcia, a senior and the No. 3 singles player on the Southeast Missouri State University team, was the women's champion, defeating Ali Wulfers of Bloomington-Normal, Ill., 6-4, 6-2.
Garcia picked up a second trophy as she teamed with Brigitte Kinnaman of Cape Girardeau to defeat Wulfers and Carrie Larson of Bloomington-Normal, Ill., 6-2, 6-7, 6-4, for the women's doubles title.
In the "A" singles, Joe Recker defeated Billy Roe of Camden, Tenn., in three sets, 6-3, 6-2, 7-6 (7-5 tiebreaker), then teamed with Sikeston native Danny Cooper to win the "B" doubles crown over tournament co-director Joe Childress and Lewis Conley.
For Recker, who grew up in New Madrid but now lives in Sikeston, it was his third win in five appearances at the Nunnelee. He also won the "B" singles in 2003.
Steve Wulfers of Bloomington-Normal, Ill., and Ken Campbell of Cape Girardeau combined for a 6-2, 6-2 win over the team of Long Le of Sikeston and Darren Neader of Jackson in the men's "A" doubles.
Charleston High School graduate Derek Hoppe, a resident of Cairo, Ill., won the "B" singles. Hoppe, who competed in the recent Missouri state tennis tournament, defeated Ish Patel of Jackson, 6-3, 3-6, 6-4.
In mixed doubles, David Conley of Ballwin and his partner Sarah Helbig of Fenton outlasted Jeff Hufford and Morgan Kemp, both of Fredericktown, in a tight three-set match, 6-2, 3-6, 6-4.
Junior play opened the tournament on Friday.
Of local interest, Jenni DeWitt, Sikeston High School's No. 1 singles player as a freshman this past season, claimed the girls 15-16 singles and, with teammate Kemp, rolled to the 17-18 girls doubles championship, as well.
Hoppe and his Charleston High School teammate Blake Branum won the boys 17-18 doubles, while Sikeston's Justin Deere and Mike Ashley of Newburg, Ind., captured the 15-16 doubles.
Campbell Moore of Sikeston repeated as the 12-and-under girls singles champion and Ben Rockett of Charleston prevailed in the 12-and-under boys singles.
Complete junior results:
Kemp, Fredericktown, def. Helbig, Fenton, 2-6, 6-4, 6-4.
DeWitt, Sikeston, def. Priya Gujarati, Poplar Bluff, 6-2, 6-1.
Megan Bowman, Paducah, Ky., def. Molly Proffer, Cape Girardeau, 7-5, 6-2.
Moore, Sikeston, def. Kyllie Tillett, Paducah, Ky., 7-6, 6-2.
Tillett-Bowman def. Kate Blaich-Dana Schurmann, Poplar Bluff, 6-2, 7-5.
Kemp-DeWitt def. Allison DeField-Kara True, Charleston, 6-0, 6-3.
David Conley, Ballwin, def. Branum, Charleston, 6-4, 6-2.
Ashley, Newburg, Ind., def. Warren Smith, Paducah, 6-2, 6-1.
Zach Hotz, St. Petersburg, Fla., def. Cameron Tillett, Paducah, 7-5, 6-4.
Rockett, Charleston, def. Evan Deere, Sikeston, 6-1, 6-1.
Ashley-J. Deere def. Smith-John Paxton, Paducah, 8-0.
Branum-Hoppe def. Dustin Sullivan-Jake Vanak, Kennett, 6-0, 6-1.