Published: Jul 12, 2006 12:45 PM
Modified: Jul 06, 2006 12:25 PM
With their tennis match tied 6-6 in the third set, the four doubles competitors were momentarily confused.
This was no recreational match, otherwise they likely would have settled the conflict themselves. In this instance, though, bronze medals were at stake on Sunday at Cary Tennis Park.
So the consolation finalists in the State Games of North Carolina's 3.5 Doubles division sought an official ruling.
A tournament organizer retrieved the nearest U.S. Tennis Association official to advise them and it was eventually declared that the players should continue with a seven-point tiebreaker.
No longer perplexed, the weary men -- Chris Lee and Dirk Kumashiro of Durham against Kyle Hampton and Keith Nichols of Raleigh -- bent their knees and readied themselves for the tiebreaker.
After a pitched battle, Kumashiro slammed a shot between Hampton and Nichols to set up game point. He then lobbed a ball to the back corner of the court that was returned out of bounds. Lee and Kumashiro won the tiebreaker 7-2.
The tournament was part of the State Games of North Carolina, a multi-sport, Olympic-style competition that runs through June 25. The Games feature 25 different sports, everything from tennis and baseball to shooting and disc golf.
Each sport is divided into multiple divisions and winners are awarded bronze, silver and gold medals.
Last year, the State Games drew 13,700 participants ranging in age from 3 to 81 and required over 500 volunteers.
This year marks the 20th anniversary of the State Games, and the second consecutive year that Cary has served as event host.
Chip Hofler, a State Games coordinator, said that about 140 athletes registered for the tennis tournament. This was the first year that matches were certified by the U.S. Tennis Association. Because the tournament feeds into the national tennis rankings, Hofler said, they were able to lure better players.
"I think a lot of people were surprised by the level of competition," he said.
Despite the USTA certification, the State Games attract the experienced and inexperienced alike.
Christopher Turner, a 19-year-old from Roanoke Rapids, only began playing tennis a year ago.
"I played State Games basketball for about four or five years," he said. Although he likes basketball, tennis, he said, has always looked fun. One day he began playing and now he is hooked.
Turner, playing in the Men's 4.0 Singles division, lost in the opening round of the main draw, but then won his first-round consolation match on Sunday morning.
Turner worked his way back through the consolation bracket to earn a bronze medal, defeating Jason Mizelle 6-0, 6-2 in the bronze medal match.
After the tense tiebreaker match for the bronze medal in men's doubles, the players were all smiles.
Hampton, upbeat even after the close loss, said of the tournament, "Everybody we've run in to and everybody we've played have been such good sports."
He added, "I had not been to this facility and it's just state of the art -- gorgeous. It's a treasure for Cary to have this. It's just incredible."
Contact Adam Linker at 467-3391 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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