Houston tennis heads for State Tourney

web tennisHOUSTON – When local school sports programs shut down for summer the USTA tennis season goes full speed ahead.

The Houston Tennis Association’s junior team has spent the summer on the courts with great success and are now qualified to participate in the State tournament July 26-28 in Ridgeland.
Mike Blissard has been coaching the team for the past few years and has seen it grow in numbers and ability. His original players are getting better and better and he’s picked up several newer faces.
“We don’t just have an intermediate team anymore,” Blissard said. “We have a beginning team, too.”
The team entered USTA district play this year, using the Rob Leake courts in Tupelo as their home base, and took top honors in division over Alcorn Central, Kossuth, Saltillo and Booneville, qualifying them for the State tournament. Blissard said at tournament, school size and MHSAA divisions don’t apply.
“It won’t be like high school,” Blissard said. “There aren’t any division 4A, 5A, like that. It’s all divisions, any school.”
The team has competed in summer USTA play, “but we’ve never had this much success,” Blissard said.
Blissard said he plans to keep the team on the court for the USTA fall season as well. The format for fall league is based on college play and different from high school or summer season. Boys and girls are separated and players compete in singles and doubles.
“So far this year I’ve been moving them around and getting them used to it,” Blissard said.
The USTA team is comprised of Houston High School tennis team members and Blissard believes in working during the school’s off-season to stay sharp.
“They need to be practicing for spring now, because everyone else is,” Blissard said. “It’s not like it used to be.”