Tennis is still in the blood of James Carr.
Nicknamed the “Coach,” Carr, 90, still finds time several days a week to practice his ground strokes for about an hour a day at the Magnolia Tennis Club in Columbus. He said his movement has slowed to the point where he no longer plays in tournaments, but he still enjoys watching the sport and attending events, like the Heritage Academy tennis team’s matches at the club.
Tennis also is something that helps keep Sunny Logan going.
Logan, 12, started competing in tennis tournaments when she 8 years old, but in July 2014 she was diagnosed with cancer.
Today, Logan is working her way back to form now that there are no signs of cancer, according to her mother, Heather. The hope is for Sunny to be back playing tournaments next month.
Carr and the Logans won’t have to wait that long to satisfy their desire for competitive tennis. This weekend, the Magnolia Tennis Club again will play host to the U.S. Tennis Association Southern 65 & Over Mississippi Championship. The tournament, which begins today and runs through Sunday, will feature matches at Magnolia Tennis Club, the event host, and Mississippi University for Women. The tournament will feature men and women ages 65 and older in three divisions in a doubles competition.
For Carr, the event will be a great opportunity to watch nearly 300 players from throughout the region compete for championships and play a sport he came to love late in life. Carr, who worked as a boys basketball, football, baseball, and track and field coach at Lee High in Columbus from 1950-1962, didn’t start playing tennis until his early 30s.
“I was just a natural athlete, but I was not a very fast runner,” Carr said. “I was able to keep the ball in play. I could return most of their shots and return most peoples’ serves, and if you do that somebody is going to make an error pretty soon. I have a lot of determination and patience.”
Sunny Logan has just as much determination and patience. Heather Logan said her daughter, who is a sixth-grader at Caledonia Middle School, told her and her husband, Colby, one day she wanted to give up dance and other activities so she could concentrate on tennis. She had a feeling tennis was a sport Sunny could enjoy because it was different nearly every match. Heather said Sunny had to take a year off from tennis after she was diagnosed with cancer and had to undergo chemotherapy treatments. She said tennis helped Sunny persevere and keep a positive outlook through all of the long days in the hospital.
“She would use that mental focus you need to play competitively to push through the hard times and the side affects, the sickness, and the nauseousness she was going through,” Heather Logan said. “She would tell you she wouldn’t be as strong as she is (if she didn’t have tennis).”
Heather Logan believes tennis can be a sport Sunny continues to play for a long time. She said Sunny has regained her muscle tone and her muscle memory and is eager to get a chance to get back to a sport that has proven to be a lifelong experience for Carr. For the Logans, tennis will continue to be a source of strength that will kept them going through life’s ups and downs.
“She is striving to do better than what she did yesterday,” Heather Logan said. “Each day she wants to do a little better, and in the long haul it will all come together to make her a better player at the end of the day.”
Follow Dispatch sports editor Adam Minichino on Twitter @ctsportseditor
Adam Minichino is the former Sports Editor for The Commercial Dispatch.
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