By Jay Young
It may not seem like ideal weather for stepping on to a tennis court, but today at 4 p.m. 130 players from across Chautauqua County will arrive at the indoor facilities of the Lakewood YMCA for the annual Post-Journal Classic tennis tournament.
Heidi Mueller is seen participating in the 2012 Post-Journal Classic tennis tournament.
P-J file photo
The field is divided into a variety of men's and women's divisions for all ages and skill groups, and will also feature pickleball for the second year in a row.
Pickleball is similar to tennis but is played on a smaller court with a hard paddle, and anyone who is interested in playing is still welcome register for the Sunday matches.
"We have had a good turnout this year across the field, including 40 kids entering the amateur tennis divisions which is always great to see,"said YMCA director Tom Anderson.
The field does not feature any returning champions from last year's tournament, but does include plenty of talent and depth on both the men's and women's side.
The top-seeded player in the men's open division is Travis Beck, who is currently a student at Mercyhurst College.
Chautauqua-Cattaraugus Athletic Association singles champion Matt Johnson of Southwestern is also highly ranked in the top- men's bracket, as well as Jay Bowen, James Getty and Cooper Miller of Falconer Central School.
The open women's bracket could end up being a shootout between the Classic's top two players, CCAA singles champion Morgan Johnson of Southwestern and Georgie Gens of Fredonia. Gens is coming of an impressive season that ended at the New York State High School Tournament.
The division will be rounded out by other talented hitters including Heidi Mueller, Rose Mole and Chloe Knapp.
Doubles play on the men's side will likely come down to the top two seeds in the division. The hard-serving pair of Marc Szafniki and Derek Akers will hope to beat out veterans Jeff Barstch and Bob Olson for the top men's spot.
"Those guys are some good players,"explained Anderson, "that will be an exciting match to watch."
The Mercyhurst Lakers will also be represented in the women's open doubles by the top-seeded team of Anne Baich and Turu Greene. Greene and Baich will have to look out for a pair of former state qualifiers in Elizabeth Rowan and Victoria VanEvery, who just finished off a superb season with the Southwestern Lady Trojans.
Amongst the younger hitters participating in the amateur divisions there are a number of dangerous players to keep an eye on. Bernadette Gens, Shane Federko, Spencer Cane, Riley Auer, and Andrew Auer will all be looking outlast their competitors throughout the course of the weekend.
Play will go through 9 p.m. today and will continue from 7:30 p.m. to 9:30 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday.
Pickleball will only be played during Sunday's action.