GALVESTON — This weekend, Galveston County tennis buffs don’t have to look any further than their own backyards for the best in high school tennis.
Seventy schools from all parts of the state are invading the area Friday and Saturday.
Clear Creek and Clear Springs high schools are teaming up for the first time to co-host the sixth annual Kemah Boardwalk High School Invitational, while the city of Galveston Parks and Recreation Department is hosting its Beachcomber Tennis Classic for the 26th year.
“We are looking forward to the Kemah Boardwalk Invitational,” co-tournament director and Wildcats head coach Patrick Marrie said. “This year proves to be one of the most competitive championship (division) draws we have ever assembled.”
Marrie is in charge of running the championship division, showcasing many of Texas’ top-ranked juniors, both boys and girls, in singles, doubles and mixed doubles.
Meanwhile, co-directing the tournament division with plenty more on-court talent in the 32-team field will be the Chargers’ co-head coaches Gregg Parker and Joyce Thomas.
While the tennis promises to be top quality, a big feature of the Bay Area event is the players’ and coaches’ chance to visit the Kemah Boardwalk for a night of fun Friday evening.
Since a number of the participants are coming from outside the Greater Houston area, this makes the Kemah Boardwalk Invitational a special treat to remember away from the tennis courts.
“It is a unique experience and unlike most high school athletic events,” Marrie said. “All 600-plus players (and coaches) will meet at the Kemah Boardwalk to socialize and enjoy the amusement park.
“As host, it is great to walk around the park and watch all the (participants) enjoying their time together. That is what makes the tournament all the more worthwhile.”
Clear Creek High School will be Saturday’s showcase site for the main draw semifinals and finals of all five divisions, starting at 8 a.m.
Along with the two co-host schools, the local list includes Clear Falls.
As for the Beachcomber Classic, this year’s tournament is the biggest ever with 38 schools in all, including two from as far away as El Paso, Montwood and Socorro high schools.
Friendswood, a regular at the island-mainland tournament, is out to win the overall team championship after finishing runner-up the past two years.
“The Beachcomber tournament is one of the hardest to predict since it draws teams from outside of our own area,” Mustangs head coach David Cook said. “Some of these teams are extremely tough.”
In recent years, the Beachcomber Classic has been invaded by entries from the Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex, including its latest newcomer, Sherman.
“We will be happy if we can have multiple entries reach finals and win,” Cook said. “We have been fortunate in most of our tournaments this spring to win a division or reach a final.
“I really want to see our children compete in every match. When that happens, I am generally happy with our results.”
Cook, however, will be without his Vu triplet threats — Brittany, Kaitlyn and Justin — but will still be competitive throughout, especially in the various doubles and mixed doubles events.
Locals joining Friendswood in the Galveston-based tournament are Dickinson, La Marque, O’Connell College Preparatory School, Santa Fe, Texas City and city host school Ball High, which will be the site of Saturday’s semifinals, finals and third-place matches, starting at 9 a.m.
John Armstrong, superintendent of recreation for the city of Galveston, is the tournament chairman.