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C.C. Lee Open Junior Tennis Tournament set for Monday and Tuesday

Olivia Geier, of Aberdeen, returns a volley during action last year in the C.C. Lee Tournament at the Northern State University tennis courts. Photo by John Davis taken 1/12/2021

Tennis balls will be sailing through the air as the annual C.C. Lee Open Junior Tennis Tournament takes place Monday and Tuesday.

The majority of the matches will be at the Northern State Courts, while some of the others will be at Melgaard Park.

This year’s event will once again feature a wide variety of players from a multi-state area.

Trent Kurtz, tournament director, said because the C.C. Lee is a United States Tennis Association sanctioned event, he does not have to worry much about seeding, unlike the Hub City Open or Junior Closed tournaments.

“The C.C. Lee is a little different, because it’s a sanctioned tournament. A lot of that is out of my hands,” Kurtz said. “All of the seeding in the C.C. Lee, I can’t do. It’s all by points they’ve earned in other tournaments.”

The tournament will follow the same format as high school events which feature a super tiebreaker in lieu of a full third set. That carries several benefits, according to Kurtz.

“The super breaker brings a lot of different stuff into it. One, it helps the tournament go a little smoother, run a little faster, makes sure the kids aren’t on the courts longer than they should be. When we have days in July that are 100 degrees that can be an issue,” Kurtz said. “It also brings a lot of excitement. A lot of matches come down to that super tiebreak, so that’s pretty exciting. It’s been a good thing for the high school season and I think it’s a good thing for the summer season, too.”

The tennis courts around Aberdeen, including Melgaard Park above, were busy with competition in the C.C. Lee Tournament last summer. Photo by John Davis taken 7/12/2021

Kurtz, a former standout player for Aberdeen Central and now the boys’ tennis coach for the Golden Eagles, played in many C.C. Lee tourneys while growing up. Naturally, the event carries special meaning for him.

“Definitely one of my better memories,” Kurtz said, recalling how players would go down to Brookings for a weekend tourney, then head up to Aberdeen for the C.C. Lee which started on Monday.

He said the competition was always top notch.

“I’ve got a lot of good memories. It was a big deal,” Kurtz said. “We had a lot of highly-rated kids from Minnesota, North Dakota, all the South Dakota kids, so some of my better tennis memories were at the C.C. Lee.”

Kurtz began running the tournament a few years ago, although his interest in organizing tourneys began years ago when he took lessons from the late Judy Rezatto.

“We kind of talked her into having a tournament day every week,” Kurtz said.

Soon a summer series took shape.

“Every Thursday was a tournament day and we kept season-long points, so I really enjoy the tournament aspect, setting up tournaments, that kind of stuff,” Kurtz said. “It’s something I’ve always been interested in.”

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