Tatem, 60, rules O’Neal Tournament with 2 titles|[04/07/08]

Published 12:00 am Monday, April 7, 2008

Sixty-year-old Henry Tatem took home a pair of trophies Sunday in the final day of the first-annual Beverly O’Neal Tennis Tournament at Halls Ferry Park.

Tatem won the men’s 4.0 singles title Sunday afternoon, beating Alex Cialone 6-4, 2-3 (retired).

The first-year tournament ranked the entered players using the United States Tennis Association scale.

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Before the singles final match, Tatem teamed up with Buddy Emery to win the 4.0 men’s doubles title in three sets.

“I’m 60 and I feel 60 right now,” Tatem said after winning the singles title, which had a field of seven, including high school players Duffy Loel of St. Aloysius and Reed Rodgers of Vicksburg High.

“I was lucky that he (Cialone) had to retire in order to make a team match in Jackson. Me and Buddy had to work a third straight tie-breaker and won it 10-8 to win the doubles match. That can pretty well tire you out.”

On Saturday in a first-round match, Tatem defeated Rodgers in straight sets.

“I was pretty fresh for that one. He (Rodgers) played well. Had a left-handed serve. And then I turned around and beat 65-year-old Eddie McBride,” Tatem said, with a laugh.

Cialone had advanced to the final by beating St. Aloysius tennis coach Leonard Banks and Mike Lowe.

Tatem said he’s been playing tennis in Vicksburg and the Jackson area for more than 25 years. He knew Beverly O’Neal well.

“I started playing tennis right here and I’ve kept at it. I play in a 4.0 mens league in Jackson. I also played with Beverly for many years.”

O’Neal was a well-known tennis instructor and player in Vicksburg and Jackson. She died in 2005 after playing in a doubles match.

In the men’s 4.0 doubles final, Emery and Tatem won the last two points in a 10-point, third-set tie-breaker.

They beat McBride and Banks 6-3, 3-6, (10-8).

In other matches, John Howard Dennis and Caleel Jabour won the 3.5 men’s doubles 6-2, 6-2. Dennis Butler and Cynthia Fields won the 3.5 mixed doubles over John Howard Dennis and Jamell Thames 6-3, 6-2.

Nellie Hopkins and Thames paired up to win the 3.5 women’s doubles title while Shelby Claire Ledell beat Kori Vessell 6-2, 6-2 in a 2.5 women’s singles.