ANDERSON — Overcast and cooler conditions over the weekend greeted participants as the 40th Community Hospital Anderson Tennis Classic kicked off at Anderson University.
"So far, it's been good," tournament director John Rhodes said. "We were in trouble (Sunday), I thought, but we got the courts dried out about an hour before start time, so we got lucky with the rain."
A threat of rain Sunday evening caused matches scheduled for then either to be moved up to earlier in the day or to Monday or later, but Rhodes said the Classic is running on schedule. There was a brief rain delay Saturday.
One of the Midwest's longest-running and most popular tennis events, the Classic again has drawn a large field of players in virtually every age group and skill level.
Rhodes, who's also Shenandoah's boys and girls coach, said 192 players have entered and 260 entry spots in 28 divisions have been filled.
"Our kids' division is a little bit larger than last year," Rhodes said. "Our varsity mixed doubles is pretty large as well, and that's attributed to schools from farther areas that are playing."
This serves as valuable summer experience for high school players, and besides area schools such as Shenandoah, Lapel, Alexandria, Frankton and Anderson, other schools represented include Western, Rushville, Bishop Chatard, Hamilton Heights and Mississinewa.
Among the area entrants are Lapel senior-to-be Jesse McCurdy and his former teammate, Joseph Conrad, who'll team in the Men's A Doubles draw as defending champions. Conrad defeated McCurdy in three sets in last year's Men's A Singles final.
Last year's Women's A Singles champion, Alexys Rastetter, is back as well. Rastetter, Frankton's coach, won a first-round match in that draw Sunday over Lauren Benagh, late of Lapel, 6-1, 6-4.
Other Men's A players include Shenandoah graduate Seth Nation, Lapel grad Chase Kimmerling and Cory Evans of Shenandoah.
On the Women's A side, Allison Newman of AU is through to the semifinal round after beating Frankton's Abby Williams 6-0, 6-2 Sunday, and Newman will meet Rastetter next. The opposite bracket has Bella Roark and Alexandria product Emalee Wyatt, with the winner getting Chainey Lowe of Frankton.
More experienced entrants include Pendleton Heights graduate Chris Zeilinga, whom Rhodes said is returning after a five-year absence, as well as Armand Gallinosa, Dennis Poe and son Alex Poe, and Ben McCurdy (Jesse's father).
"We have a lot of good players this year," Rhodes said. "We also have a pretty good turnout of college kids."
Rhodes said some players who participated in the past are playing instead in a USTA Midwest Qualifier event, and dates of future Classics are uncertain because of potential conflicts.
A new feature of the Classic is pickleball, and it will take place Saturday on the north courts at AU. Pickleball combines tennis, table tennis and badminton and is played with wooden paddles and a ball similar to a Wiffle Ball.
The Classic goes every day this week until Saturday.