AROUND TOWN: Tennis battle royale staged at Blowing Rock Country Club

AROUND TOWN: Tennis battle royale staged at Blowing Rock Country Club
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Pat Riley serves up a big smile to the photographer.

By David Rogers. August 25, 2018. BLOWING ROCK, NC — Call it the “maybe gonna be” annual Battle for Blowing Rock.

COVER IMAGE: Blowing Rock seasonal resident Bob Stiles shows good form while launching a serve in the Battle for Blowing Rock friendly tennis match. All photographic images by David Rogers for Blowing Rock News

Well, that might be exaggerating things a bit, but at the very least it was a tussle for bragging rights among tennis pals — and lunch at Town Tavern of Blowing Rock, paid for by the match of the day’s losers. Those are pretty high stakes at the prices commanded for craft beer these days.

When Pat Riley, CEO of Charlotte-based Allen Tate Realty paused from slapping the ball around the Blowing Rock Country Club tennis courts to tell Blowing Rock News that he was playing tennis with three professionals on this balmy Saturday morning, he quickly quipped, “I’m glad one of them is on my side!”

I’m glad one of them is on my side!

Riley artfully sneaks a drop shot over the net for a point.

Riley, pretty nimble of an athlete himself, was in good company. His teammate was Brad Cherry. Prior to becoming an industrial real estate professional, after graduating from University of Southern California Cherry played on the ATP professional tennis tour, qualifying to compete at Wimbledon and the U.S. Open.

On the other side of the net, Riley and Cherry faced an athletic Bob Stiles, a Charlotte-based private wealth management professional, and Jeff Mullins.

Mullins delivers a backhand lob over the heads of his opponents.

Yes, THE Jeff Mullins was in town, former star basketball player at Duke University who went on to play in the NBA for 12 years with the then St. Louis Hawks and Golden State Warriors. After his retirement from playing, the one time Mr. Basketball in the Kentucky prep ranks drew on his rich hoops background to serve as head coach of UNC-Charlotte for 11 years, compiling a 182-142 record that included three trips to the NCAA “March Madness” tournament (1988, 1992 and 1995), as well as two trips to the NIT tourney (1989 and 1994).

When Blowing Rock News asked Mullins how Saturday morning’s tennis competition ranks with his days playing basketball for Duke, the 6-4 native of Queens, NY who played his prep basketball in Lexington, KY deadpanned (tongue firmly planted in cheek), “Oh, it ranks right up there.”

Although having given up the ATP tour, Cherry still shows some skill…

Regretfully, Blowing Rock News had other commitments so couldn’t stay to find out who would be buying lunch, but we must acknowledge that each of the four picked up their game a notch when the news photographer’s camera was pointed their way!

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