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Twelve-year-old Tubert too tough for older competitors

Sep. 02, 2008 @ 12:12 AM

HUNTINGTON -- Hunter Tubert and Patrick Walker mixed in fun with work under a hot sun Monday at the Ritter Park Tennis Center.

Tubert, 12 and a sixth-grade student at Beverly Hills Middle School, won two singles titles and teamed with grandfather Willard Hunter to make it a 3-0 championship day in the Dick Griffith Open.

"It's fun to come home and play," said Tubert, who plays a predominantly national schedule now. "I carried him (Willard). It's a true story."

Tubert won the boys 14-under and 16-under championships with 6-0, 6-0 decisions in both. In the Parent-Child finals, Tubert and Hunter also prevailed 6-0, 6-0.

Walker, 22, who is from Huntington but teaches tennis in Charleston, also collected three titles. One came with his father as his doubles partner.

"I love it. We have a blast," Walker said of teaming up with John, his dad. "I finally get to pick on him a bit. He used to pick on me all the time."

Walker defeated Kris Looney of Indianapolis, 7-6 (4), 6-2, in the men's open finals. The Walkers knocked off Ross Evans and Josh Whitman, 7-6 (4), 6-1. In mixed open doubles, Walker and Shelly Naylor won by default.

Tubert competed in eight matches over the weekend, three coming on Monday.

"I practice a lot on conditioning," said Tubert, who runs cross country for Beverly Hills. "I play smarter now. I'm more consistent and place the ball better."

Prior to the Griffith event, Tubert last played in the USTA Boys 12's Tennis Championships in early August in North Little Rock, Ark. He's got another couple of weeks off before he goes to Lexington for a big junior event. In the meet at Hurricane last Thursday, Tubert finished 14th overall in the 3k (14:07.59).

Walker switched rackets in the close first set against Looney and it paid off.

"He played well," Walker said. "After the racket change, I felt better and my strokes got better."

The tournament's namesake, Dick Griffith, is a Kenova resident known as "Mr. Tennis" for his many contributions to the sport. The Huntington Tennis Association awards a $1,000 endowed scholarship in his name yearly.