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Wed, Aug. 21

Column: Prescott wheelchair tennis star to compete in Valley

Our very own U.S. Open singles and doubles tennis champion, Nannette Oatley will be putting on a special wheelchair tennis exhibition on Feb. 21 at the Surprise Tennis and Racquet Complex in the Valley

This 25-court, state-of-the-art facility, which is at 14469 W. Paradise Lane, hosts Jim Courier's Outback Senior Tournament, occasional Fed Cups and many other regional, state and national competitions.

Her opponent will be the former U.S. Junior doubles champion Rick Carter, who is currently both the boys and girl's varsity and junior varsity tennis coach at Phoenix Mountain Pointe High.

What makes this a fairly special exhibition is that it will be held between the finals of the singles and doubles championships at the Symmetry Software Women's $25,000 Pro Circuit Tennis Championships which starts Sunday.

Oatley, is a resiliency expert and licensed professional counselor, former radio talk show host, author as well as the 2001 U.S. Open wheelchair tennis champion.

In 2002, Oatley became the first recipient of the Director's Recognition Award presented by Women in Networking, an affiliate of the National Association of Female Executives.

In addition, she has accrued twelve championship tennis titles-six in singles and six in doubles, eight of them international wins.

Competitively, Carter has competed throughout the country garnering numerous singles and doubles titles and as a coach his teams have captured various city, regional and tournament wins including the 2007 Kiwanis Team Tournament.

Did you know the USTA Pro Circuit graduates have accounted for more than 50 Grand Slam singles titles?

Fourteen Pro Circuit veterans have risen to number one in the world. That list includes Americans Pete Sampras, Lindsay Davenport, Andre Agassi, Jim Courier and Andy Roddick.

Each year, more than half the players in the U.S. Open men's and women's draws have either played or are currently playing on the USTA Pro Circuit.

Moreover, each member of the 2007 Davis Cup championships-winning squad had won multiple events on the USTA Pro Circuit, and the 2008 Fed Cub team was populated entirely by Pro Circuit players and /or graduates.

This year, former Wimbledon semifinalist, Alexandra Stevenson will be one of 32 women competing from around the globe working on gathering enough WTA ranking points to make the main draws of not only the majors and masters tournaments, but any professional women's tourney that's held on the main tour.

The 29 year-old is trying to make a comeback after a series of injuries.

This year's tourney in Surprise will boast a draw of 32 singles entries, and 16 teams of doubles. There will also be a qualifying tournament of 64 players trying to gain one of 4 spots open in the main draw.

Ticket prices are $3 - Tuesday through Thursday with matches starting at 10 a.m. - then $6 from Friday through Sunday.

The finals will begin at noon on Feb. 21.

They'll be followed by the wheelchair exhibition and then the doubles final.

Let's support Oatley.

Take the short easy drive down to Surprise, watch some good tennis with up and coming women professional players and get jazzed to possibly visit the BNP Paribas Masters Open, March 8-21st held in Indian Wells, California.

For additional information about the Surprise tournament call 623-222-2400.

Chris Howard is a local USPTA Tennis Professional with over 35 years in the racquet and fitness industry. He can be reached at 928-445-1331 or choward4541@q.com

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