The Club’s 24th-annual Quinn Connelley Doubles Tennis Tournament had a lot of interesting stories with a number of members taking home – as tennis pro Mel loves to say – the coveted bobblehead trophies.
Photo at left, bobbleheads await winners while Rafael Nadal wins in Monte Carlo.
There were back-to-back champs, a team formed the day play began, brothers who never played doubles before and more – all watched by two of Quinn Connelley’s daughters.
“It’s been really good. The weather cooperated. People had a lot of fun,” said Mel, LCC head tennis professional.
More than 120 tennis players – more than 30 of them Club members – competed for the 50 bobblehead honors April 20-22.
The field had about 20 players from Amarillo, two from Clovis and two from Abilene – much higher
than usual, said Mel.
Stephanie Lanford and Holly Robbins are Women’s 3.0 back-to-back champions, besting Ivy Zepeda and Allison Pace in the finals.
Stephanie and Holly are also undefeated as doubles partners when they have teamed up over three years.
“She’s very encouraging,” said Stephanie of her partner.
“We laugh when we hit a good shot and we laugh when we hit a bad shot,” said Holly, whose son is going to state tennis in singles from Shallowater High School.
This was only the fifth or sixth time Ivy and Allison have played matches together, but they’ve known each other since playing basketball when they were elementary school age in Lubbock.
Click here to see Facebook gallery of winners from The Club.
Sibling bobblehead winners
Brothers Harrison Bennett and Ian McDonald never played doubles together but teamed up well enough to win the Men’s Open Consolation.
The siblings, who are ten years apart, lost their first match before winning their next two.
“His volleys were insane – his shots were on fire,” said Harrison of his older brother, who went to the state tennis tournament in 2011 when he was at Coronado High School.
Photo at left, closeup of bobblehead awards.
To prepare for the Quinn Connelley, the brothers played singles a few days before the tournament with Harrison winning.
Considering they had never played doubles together, what was their expectation?
“To win the tournament,” said Harrison.
“That’s his expectation every tournament – and that’s good,” said Ian, who then wisecracked, “my expectation was to drink some beer and play with my little brother.”
They were impressed with the entire tournament.
“Good shirts, good food – and a shout out to all the pros, they really care about their players here,” said Harrison.
The last-minute substitute
Erin Wilson was not planning on playing in the tournament.
Sarah McKoin had a partner – but that woman got a stomach bug Thursday night.
Sarah, director of Texas Tech’s Goin’ Band From Raiderland, started looking for a replacement.
She texted Erin, who was already asleep and didn’t see Sarah’s text until 6:45 Friday morning.
Erin was in.
Sarah taught at Tech until 4 and the pair – friends, but never before doubles partners – were playing at 5 p.m. Friday.
They ended up winning the Women’s 3.5 Consolation Finals.
“We probably wish we were in the winners’ bracket,” said Erin, who added considering how they ended up playing together, it was a great outcome.
Moving up to 3.0
Ginger McDowell and Sharla Letbetter were thrilled with their Women’s 3.0 Consolation Finals win by a 6-4, 6-1 score.
They usually play at the 2.5 level.
“I’m proud of ourselves,” said Sharla. “We’re playing in a 3.0 league and thought it would be good practice.”
Ginger said: “We had no idea what to expect and didn’t practice together.”
“It was fun,” she added.
Sharla added: “And we got to hang out with all our friends.”
Winning Quinn after winning Lobapalooza
Katy Birk and Emily Liner defeated Whitney Walden and Dani Stephens for Women’s 2.5 title, following up their win in The Club’s recent Lobapalooza.
Dani played high school tennis and just started playing again a month ago.
But she made an impression.
“She hits the ball 100 miles an hour,” said Katy.
Emily added: “We call her Dani Dynamite.”
Whitney and Dani were impressed with their opponents, saying Katy and Emily were very consistent had very good placement.
‘It’s such a tribute to him’
Gwen Stafford and Ginger Wright watched Sunday’s matches at the tournament named for their father.
“It’s such a tribute to him,” said Ginger, who moved to Lubbock with her family in 1954 when her dad got the Pontiac dealership after 20 years as tennis coach at Rice in Houston.
Ginger just moved back to Lubbock recently.
Her sister said:
“The history of tennis in Lubbock can be traced back to daddy’s love of tennis,” said Gwen. “He started the Lubbock Tennis Association with David Hester, Dub Rushing, Randy Rutledge.”
Gwen said tennis was not as popular in the 1950s.
Photo at left, Ginger Wright and Gwen Stafford, Quinn Connelley's daughters.
Even after retiring, Ginger said, he coached juniors at The Club – including Charles Key, who won state doubles when he was a student at Coronado High School.
“Dad still wanted to be involved in tennis. He loved tennis,” said Ginger.
Quinn won a state high school tennis title when he was 17 growing up in Fort Worth, before he went to college at Rice.
“He had the greatest hand-eye coordination I’ve ever seen. He was quick and very strong – had a great drop shot,” said Gwen.
He was also a traditionalist, said Gwen.
Even when players started wearing shorts, Quinn still played in long, white linen pants.
“It means so much that his legacy continues,” she added.