Those traveling the highway between Vidalia and Ferriday Monday and Tuesday could not help but niotice a school bus, tents, vendors, and smoke rising from a grill at the Recreation District No. 3 Tennis Complex.
Those driving up would have found teen-agers in tennis uniforms carrying tennis equipment looking like ants building a new mound.
Delta Charter School was hosting the Division IV Region II Tennis Tournament for the first time this week.
Grace Christian in Alexandria has been hosting the event the past few years, but asked Delta Charter tennis coach Emily Dawkins if her school would be interesting as serving as host this year.
Dawkins jumped at the chance.
“They have played us at the Vidalia complex, and knew about our facility,” Dawkins said.
Dawkins had to get clearance from Recreation District No. 3 officials and Delta Charter school officials.
Recreation District No. 3 Director Graham Roberts was all in, and Delta Charter officials were excited about putting on the tournament.
Even though she has been a part of several school tournaments, Dawkins didn’t know for sure what to expect as a host school.
“I knew there would be a lot of kids here playing tennis,” Dawkins said. “But I was still amazed. And our kids are loving it, being able to play at home and being a part of this. I had a lot of parents step up and help this be a successful tournament. Without their help I couldn’t have gotten this done.”
And it’s beneficial to Delta Charter, saving money on travel, food and such from having to get on the road.
Joining Delta Charter at the tournament were Academy of the Sacred Heart of Grand Coteau, Westminster Christian, Grace Christian, Hathaway, Lacassine, Opelousas Catholic, Sacred Heart, St. Edmund, University Academy and Avoyelles Public Charter.
Dawkins said she also relied on her experiences at other tournaments.
“We had an organization check-in table that I copied from two years ago when we went to the regionals in Monroe at ULM,” she said. “The coaches in this region have made it easy to be successful. We had great meetings. We have some new coaches in the region who didn’t know what to expect, but were very helpful in what the could do.”
Dawkins stressed that the Louisiana High School Athletic Association was over the tournament.
“I wasn’t in charge, but I like helping to organize tournaments,” she said.”I would really like to have more tournaments here. Our tennis season actually starts in August and goes to May. And I would like to see more youth programs here in the summer.”
Singles players for Delta Charter are Bella Dawkins, Olivia Lancaster and Kenneth Roberts.
Doubles players for DCS are Cailey Geoghagen and Saige Smith; Randa White and Natalie Hargis, Peyton Atkins and Jaci McFarland and Aidan Ferguson and Ruger Burnette.
And while you always expect the unexpected in such a big undertaking, there was one thing Dawkins was not counting on.
“There was a boy who was stung by a bee while he was playing,” she said.
The real winner is the entire area and Delta Charter tennis.
“I hope people are driving by and seeing all the cars and realizing there’s a huge tennis tournament going on,”Dawkins said. “I hope this drums up some excitement about tennis around here and people will use the facilities more.
Dawkins admitted she has not had much time to enjoy what was going on during the tournament, coaching her own team while making sure things were running smooth.
“Tuesday night I was really exhausted, but I was still really proud of what happened here.”