BURNSVILLE – Grant Buckner was good at whatever net-related sport he tried at Mountain Heritage High.
Buckner spent all winter shooting basketballs into a net — the recent high school graduate was an All-Western Highlands Conference guard for the Cougars.
And then Buckner hit balls over a net to become a two-time WHC player of the year in boys tennis this spring.
Backhands and forehands will again be in Buckner’s repertoire this weekend at the 83rd City of Asheville Junior Open. Boys and girls matches are scheduled for Saturday, Sunday and Monday at Aston Park Tennis Center in downtown Asheville.
Buckner won the boys 18 division last summer.
“This is probably one of my favorite tournaments,” Buckner said. “I know people on the staff at Aston Park, and they do such a good job running this tournament. It’s definitely one I look forward to.”
Buckner is back to defend his City of Asheville Jr. Open singles championship in a three-player age division that also includes Spencer Daniels from Charlotte and Jacob Moore from Myrtle Beach, South Carolina. Round-robin play will be used to determine the winner on Aston Park’s clay courts.
“I’m used to playing on hardcourts more (than clay). The ball bounces a little different, but it’s a good surface,” Buckner said. “It’s easy on the knees.”
Buckner completed his final regular season at Mountain Heritage with a 14-2 singles record and was selected to the Citizen-Times All-WNC team last month. He will be attending UNC Asheville in the fall but hasn’t decided whether or not he wants to try out for the Bulldogs as a walk-on.
“I just enjoy playing the game, and the tournaments are a fun way to try and get better,” Buckner said.
Overall, a long holiday weekend could be the reason participation for the City of Asheville Jr. Open is down from about 120 players in 2013 to about 80 this year. Nevertheless, tournament director Laura Loftis said everyone at Aston Park is eager to get the event started.
“There are a lot of local kids playing in it, and it’s always an exciting time when we can transform the park into a tournament atmosphere with the local kids and people outside the area,” Loftis said.
WANT TO PLAY?
Adult division of 83rd City of Asheville Open.
Aston Park Tennis Center, downtown Asheville.
$43.40 singles, $23 doubles.
Online at nctennis.com (tournament ID 703940814) or contact Laura Loftis (251-4074).
Monday, July 7.