When he was younger, Hampton Goldman remembers just wanting to have fun when he played in the Festival of Flowers Junior Open. Now, the Greenwood High School rising sophomore is looking forward to showcasing his skills at this weekend’s event.
“Each year, I’ve started playing more and more,” Goldman said. “For the past three or four years, I’ve started taking (tennis) more serious, and during those years, I’ve been playing in this tournament a lot. It’s in my hometown, and it’s really fun to play.”
Goldman will be playing in the U16 boys singles event this weekend and will aim to follow up a strong showing he had last month at the Chick-fil-A Palmetto Championships in Belton. Goldman lost his opening-round match to No. 9 Jack Wilkey, but he secured two victories in the consolation round.
Goldman said he enjoys playing in the Festival of Flowers tournament because he knows a lot of the players from the area.
“That’s what makes this tournament fun, you just know everyone,” Goldman said. “Everyone around you, in the stands, they’re in your hometown and they’re rooting for you. It’s just a very special tournament to play because it’s in my hometown.”
Greenwood Country Club tennis pro Gary Agardy organizes the event and has worked at the Country Club for nearly 30 years. This year’s tournament will bring in around 90 players from across the state, with some coming from North Carolina and Georgia.
Matches will take place at the Greenwood Country Club, Landers’ Jeff May Complex and the Gatewood Club. There will be about 13 players from Greenwood in the tournament, including Adair Still, a standout senior at Greenwood High. Still defeated Morgan Grooms in the U16 girls singles championship last year.
“It’s a pretty good field,” Agardy said. “We’ve got some pretty strong local players and then kids from the other towns coming down. It’s just a real nice tournament because it’s still one of the tournaments that’s held in a small town, where the community gets involved and the kids get to play out of the clubs instead of the larger, public facilities.”
The tournament will feature boys and girls ages 10 through 18 in singles and doubles. Greenwood resident and 11-year old Brooks Gantt has played in the tournament for the past few years and hopes to make it back to the doubles championship round. Gantt and his partner Dewitt Smith won the U10 boys doubles championship last season.
Gantt also said he hopes he can finally defeat his good friend Smith in the championship round for the singles event, if they both make it. Gantt has lost to Smith the past two years.
“It’s a really fun tournament, and it has great people that come,” he said. “There are great competitors from all over the state and out of state.”
The tournament will begin around 5:30 p.m. Friday and run through Sunday.