ANNA – Though its start was delayed six hours for inclement weather, and participation dropped for the same reason, Anna’s first-ever U. S. Tennis Association Challenger event was completed Saturday night, June 3, at the Anna Sports Complex. The event was originally planned to be held at just Anna and Princeton high schools, but the response was so great that coinciding additional venues had to be added at Royse City and Frisco Lebanon Trail.

“The last I heard, we were approaching the record for most entrants ever in the history of Texas USTA one-day Challengers,” Anna tennis head coach Vince Sharp said.

“It’s the first USTA event ever placed in the Anna-Melissa area,” Tournament Director David Gray said. “Most events are located in metro areas and suburbs such as Plano and Frisco. We convinced the USTA Texas section that tennis is also growing east and northeast (of DFW) and we had eager coaches such as Anna’s Vince Sharp and Princeton’s Brian Cottongame that would promote the tournament. … It’s quite an honor for a community to get to host one of these events and we hope it will be a catalyst to grow the sport even more.”

The USTA is the governing body of U.S. tennis. These Challengers are for players seeking to amass points toward being a championship-level player in the USTA. For this event, boys and girls, ages 10 through 18, participated. USTA Texas has now hosted about 20 of these one-day Challengers, Gray said.

“We believe this is the largest so far, with 177 players entered,” Gray said. “We were stunned when the entry list started swelling. Frisco and McKinney kids figured out it wasn’t very far to Anna and junior players in the Anna/Princeton footprint are taking advantage of a tournament in their backyard.”

Six Anna players competed this day, including 10-year-old Ella Sharp who won her Co-ed 10 division with a 4-2, 3-4, 10-7 finals win over Forney’s Gary Negri. Morgan Sharp, Ella’s sister, advanced to the finals in Girls 12 Singles before falling to Nicole Lawrence of Dallas, 4-0, 4-1. Anna’s Sydney Jones moved to the Girls 18 Singles semifinals before being stopped by Madison Bishop of Haslet, 4-1, 4-3. In Boys 16 Singles semifinals, Anna’s Rowdy Lairson was defeated by Jodhan Perez of Red Oak, 4-1, 4-2, and Luke Hansen was topped by Duncanville’s Mark Brown, 4-0, 4-0, in the Boys 18 Singles semifinals. Anna Middle School’s Molli Woodbury dropped a tight opening-round match to Kinzee Hamilton of Gunter, 4-2, 5-4 (7-4), in Girls 12 Singles.

Four Melissa players participated in the Challenger, including Justin Mercer who advanced to the Boys 18 Singles semifinals before falling, 4-2,4-1, to Pierce McKinzie of Aurora. In Boys 16 Singles action, Brandon Shipes was defeated by Kalen Ray of Kilgore, 4-1, 4-0, and one-seed John Lewis fell to Cyrus Buhariwalla of Flower Mound by an identical score. Dawson Mercer was topped in a Boys 14 Singles opening-round match, 4-2, 4-2, by Frisco’s Stefan Boudriau.

Consolation rounds were not played due to the late weather-related start.