Couldn’t rain on their parade Waccamaw High School hosts charity tennis tournament

Eileen Keithly/South Strand News From left, seventh grader Abi Luquire, and eighth grader Kate Drosieko take to the courts for the Waccamaw Warriors Sept. 6 at the Ashley G Foundation Tennis Tournament at Stables Park in Pawleys Island. The Lady Warriors finished fifth in the tournament.

Even the rain couldn’t drench the efforts of the Waccamaw High School girls’ tennis team when it came to hosting the second annual Ashley G Foundation Charity Tennis Tournament Sept. 5 and 6 at Stables Tennis Center in Pawleys Island.

“This is so wonderful,” said Ashley’s mother, Melanie. “The effort that has been put forth by all the volunteers, the parents, and the community is unbelievable.”

The weather didn’t seem to be dampening the spirits of the girls, and the ones who had known Ashley knew the weather would not have fazed her a bit.

Ashley Gaines was a member of Waccamaw High School’s 2006 state championship girls’ tennis team. In the spring of 2007, she was diagnosed with non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, and 14 months later the disease claimed her young life.

Ashley’s parents, David and Melanie Gaines, established the Ashley G Foundation to raise money for cancer research and to help patients and their families.

Beloved by everyone who crossed her path, Ashley herself would have loved to plan a weekend of girls-only tennis.

The fun and sportsmanship would have been right down her alley, too. She probably would have been the girl on the front porch hanging the rain-drenched towels over the railings in color-coordinated patterns to form a rainbow.

The start of the tournament was slow, with the weekend weather not cooperating. The six teams – Myrtle Beach, River Bluff, Aynor, Socastee, Johnsonville and Waccamaw – played well into the night Sept. 5, having to stop several times for rain delays. The ladies returned bright and early Sept. 6 to find out they would be waiting out a four-hour rain delay.

Myrtle Beach coach Jeri Himmelsbach was anxious for the weather to clear so she could unleash her freshman powerhouse Elizabeth Truluck.

“We are sitting in a very good spot this year,” she said. “We have almost every returning player from last year, and we have been handed a gift in Elizabeth.”

Himmelsbach said she was the “luckiest coach in South Carolina,” and was looking forward to the season.

River Bluff coach Ross Sons was looking to the tournament for some tough play to strengthen his players. “These tournaments are a great way to get some experienced match play in at the beginning of the season,” Ross said.

“We are in a tough region this year, and our ladies need a little toughening up.”

After the skies cleared and the scores were tallied, Myrtle Beach claimed the first-place trophy with a score of 311 points; River Bluff served up a second-place finish with 184 points; coming in third place was Socastee with 179 points; Aynor snagged a fourth-place finish with 174 points; Waccamaw pulled out a fifth-place finish with 141 points; and Johnsonville, with a score of 95, was the sixth-place finisher.