Friday, June 20, 2014
A Georgetown County tennis team recently won a state title and will now compete for a regional title with an eye toward a shot at a national title later this year.
“Play Purdie,” based at the Waccamaw Regional Tennis Center at Stables Park in Litchfield, won its division of the United States Tennis Association 18+ League Championships in Greenville.
Play Purdie was one of five Grand Strand Tennis League (GSTL) teams to make it to the semi-finals of the state tournament, and one of only two to make it to the finals.
The team is comprised of ladies between the ages of 26 and 51 who live in Pawleys Island, Andrews, Murrells Inlet, Mount Pleasant and North Myrtle Beach.
Team members include a doctor, a nurse, a real estate agent and a few stay-at-home moms.
Play Purdie was formed four years ago, and during that time has won its GSTL division three times.
“The Grand Strand has a really good tennis following and really good tennis programs,” said Caitlin Negethon, Play Purdie’s captain. “We have a lot of talent on our team. We’ve risen together as a team and won as a team.”
The team competes in the GSTL’s spring league, playing 10 matches from mid-February through April. Playoffs begin in June.
Not all of the teams in the league are as competitive as Play Purdie, said team member Sandy Jersek.
“We want to be good, we want to be better,” she said.
As seriously as they take competition, team members said there’s also a lot of fun, and love, involved.
Jersek calls it her “happy hour.”
“It’s my way of getting out of the house and away from the kids,” she said. “We just have a good time.”
“All of us have become more than just teammates. We’ve become friends,” Negethon said. “It’s definitely a tennis family. It’s very special for all of us.”
“We just have such a great group of ladies and it’s so low drama,” said Dorian Hooks, team co-captain and Jersek’s doubles partner.
Play Purdie has been participating in clinics at Stables Park and scrimmaging against other teams to get ready for the regional tournament.
“The whole area is really coming together to get everyone prepared to move onto the next level,” Negethon said. “It’s a great privilege for all of us.”
“We’re pretty excited that we made it this far,” Jersek said.
More than 18,000 players competed for titles in nine states, and only 1,800 advanced to the Southern Sectional.
“It’s going to be tough,” Hooks said. “It’s the best of the best from the best of the best.”
Play Purdie will have to win five matches at the Southern Sectional to win its division.
“I think we have a really strong team,” Negethon said. “One of the best chances we’ve ever had to win this year.”
Of the 1,800 in the Southern Sectional, about 200 will advance to the National Championships in the fall.
“I’m not going in there overly confident,” Hooks said, “but why not us?”