Atmore's own 'Eye of the Tiger'
By By Matthew Nascone
Atmore may have only been a pit stop, but Chuck McCuen said he loved the atmosphere of the city.
McCuen and eight members of the Clemson University Tigers men's tennis team used Tom Byrne Park as a practice facility Wednesday afternoon on their way to LSU.
"This is almost exactly half way between Clemson and LSU," McCuen said. "Our bus needed gas and we needed a place to stretch our legs. Our GPS brought us to Jefferson Davis Community College here in Atmore and we thought they would have a tennis court, but someone up there told us we could practice here."
So McCuen, the teams' assistant coach, trainer Nick Kulick and eight of the team members warmed up and ran through a practice session on the tennis courts of Tom Byrne Park.
"We were fortunate enough to stop here and find this great park," McCuen said. "This gives us a much needed break. We travel so much and we have already made trips to southern California and Texas."
The session was practice for their doubleheader tennis match against Southern University and LSU in Baton Rouge Feb. 21.
"We are one of the few programs in the country that still does a lot of doubleheader matches," McCuen said.
McCuen said it is good for the team to experience towns such as Atmore.
"These kids are from all across the country and the world and it is good for them to get to see all different parts of the United States," he said. "We definitely enjoy the small towns of the country."
The Clemson University men's tennis team, like many other major university tennis teams, has many players from outside the U.S. The Clemson team boasts six players from the U.S. and four from abroad.
McCuen said Clemson head coach Chuck Kriese was already in Baton Rouge. He was honored as the Professional Tennis Registry International Coach of the Year in Hilton Head, S.C.
Overall, McCuen said the atmosphere and facilities in Atmore were top notch and he said he is going to keep Tom Byrne Park in mind for the next time the Tigers swing through Alabama.
"It is so nice to be out of the bus and you guys have great weather for us here," McCuen said.
Members of the Clemson team that took a pit stop in Atmore include, Rok Bizjak, Kevin Galloway, Ike Belk, Robert Pietrucha, Carlos Alvarez, Derek DiFazio, Gera Boryachinskiy and Kevin Fleck.
As of press time, there was no word on how the Tigers did in their doubleheader match against Southern University and LSU in Baton Rouge.