It's an encouraging sign for the coaches of those teams, both of whom also are playing in the tourney that concludes today, because they know their young players will only get better with experience.
"That's what we're counting on, that our younger kids who are involved with the program (will) extend their work," Mercer girls coach Diane Beauchamp said.
In all, 33 of the approximately 80 players are in the brackets for ages 18 and under. Playing in tournaments such as this is important in the offseason, and Beauchamp said she has tried to get her players of all ages to realize that.
"A lot of people put their rackets down at the end of the season and pick it up again at the beginning of the next season," she said.
"I believe kids should be involved in other things in the summer besides tennis, but to really be a player, it has to be part of your plan."
Part of the plan
It is an increasingly large part of the plan at Mercer, where Beauchamp gave her players schedules for the Central Kentucky Tennis Series and the Mountain Tennis Circuit - the Garrard open is affiliated with the latter - and encouraged them to participate.
And several of them took advantage of the chance to play in two close-to-home tournaments, this one and a recent CKTS event in Danville.
"We're just trying to improve so we can come back and have a great season next year," said 12-year-old Caitlin Baer, who will be an eighth-grader when the new school year begins next month.
This is the fourth tournament of the summer for Savanna Barnett, Beau-champ's daughter and a freshman-to-be at Mercer. And she said she's sure the extra matches are making a difference.
"I'm just working on my consistency," Barnett said. "I just want to improve to be ready for next year."
Emili Moore wants to improve, too, even though she has only been playing tennis for a couple of months. Moore, 13, was convinced to join Mercer's junior varsity team by friend and classmate Baer, and this was her first competitive tournament.
She lost her opening match in the 14-and-under singles division to an experienced opponent, but she wasn't disheartened. She said she is learning every time she plays and is taking lessons in Danville and Harrodsburg. "I just like playing," Moore said. "I just think it's a lot of fun."
This also is the first tournament for Baer, but she said she can't wait for the next one.
"I'm hoping to come back next year and do a lot more," she said.
The Garrard boys who are competing this weekend benefit from this tournament in two ways. Not only do they get valuable experience, but they also profit because the tourney's proceeds support their program.
Three of the four JV players and another boy who is expected to join the team next year are in the field, and experiences like this should make their Garrard team better years from now.
"I hope so," said 13-year-old Hagan Teague, who will enter the seventh grade.
Teague and classmate Tanner Barrett are among those who regularly hit at the Garrard courts. He said this was his second tournament, but he also is becoming a more frequent visitor to the Garrard courts.
"I come up here and play with (Barrett) a lot," he said, adding that he expects to stick with the sport for years to come.
Statements like that are music to the ears of Mike Stevens, the Garrard boys coach. "It's nice to see that there's a number of kids coming on," Stevens said after his own match, a 3-hour, 16-minute marathon he lost to recent Mercer graduate Matt Teater.
And both Stevens and Beauchamp said it's also nice to see so many of their young players competing in events like this.
"These are just excellent ways for the kids to get more competition and experience," Beauchamp said.Photographer Mike Marsee offers a photo slideshow of action from the Garrard Open Tennis Tournament.