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July 5, 2014

Big crowd celebrates 4th at Brumby camp

TIFTON — There were plenty of singles at the courts at Abraham Baldwin Agricultural College for Mike Brumby's tennis camp. It was not a good day for playing them, though.

"With such a big crowd, they've had to do a lot of doubles," said Moppy Brumby. Mike Brumby estimated the numbers to be 60-65 players, meaning that arranging singles matches was a tad difficult.

A few were able to find ways.

During water breaks, some were able to hustle back, grabbing a couple of minutes here and there with just one other person joining them on the court. Some of the adults, she said, were going to try to hang around after the kids left for the day. Youth made up the biggest numbers. Mike Brumby said that many of the older players had been co-opted into serving as officials to the younger ones.

The camp has been a popular feature for many years. It was not difficult to understand why this particular day drew more than anticipated.

He has always served watermelon on the Friday during the week of July 4. This time, the holiday fell on the exact day. Add to it that the temperature was quite reasonable, complete with, as he noted, " a light breeze."

It was the watermelon that excited the youngest campers. When they were told one more round before they could go eat, there was a big "Yay!" from the group.

The numbers caused the Brumbys and their volunteers to worry if they had a slice for everyone. Luckily, they did and several camper shirts bore not just sweat stains, but watermelon juice and a stray seed or two.

Back out on the courts, both Brumbys remained busy. Moppy spent most of her time working with the kids, giving encouragement and recording match results. Mike was everywhere, wandering inside and outside, back and forth between the sides of the ABAC tennis facilities. He met with groups of players, made assignments of teams, assignments of courts and then made introductions, able to name any given person's background and current whereabouts of anyone requested.

His ways have endeared him to his campers.

Grant Crane, who is a student at the University of Georgia, said he had been coming out to the camps since he was 8. At Tift County High, he said he spent three years as part of the Blue Devils No. 1 doubles team, then a year at No. 1 singles.

The relaxed atmosphere, he said, was what he loved about the camp. Plus, "it's pretty fun to meet new people."

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