WHEELING - Andy Yates plays in tennis tournaments all across the country.
There's one he always looks forward to, The Jack Dorsey Memorial Senior Open.
The tournament, which begins at 9 a.m. today at the Oglebay Tennis Center, is named after Dorsey, an avid supporter of tennis, not only in Wheeling, but around the entire state of West Virginia.
''When Jack Dorsey was alive, he started a tradition that drew people in,'' said Yates, a 78-year-old native of Gladwyne, Pa. ''You had to play in it just because of the hospitality and so forth. When he passed away (in 2010), the people here kept on the same tradition. So far they've done a pretty good job.''
Yates was practicing on one of the site's 10 Har-Tru courts with his doubles partner, Mark Forrester, on Wednesday in preparation for the event.
''He's still a spring chicken,'' Yates said of his partner.
Forrester, a native of Moorestown, N.J., quickly fired back, ''I'll be 76 next month. What are you talking about?''
It's those friendly back-and-forth type jabs that makes this tournament so much fun to be a part of.
''It's a lot of fun to watch these guys compete,'' Facilitations Director Debbie Pickens said. ''Some of these guys have come back year after year.''
Pickens noted there's a total of 106 entries from 21 different states in this year's event.
While Pickens said there's a few more players entered than last year, tennis tournaments in general are starting to see declining numbers.
''Tournaments are struggling everywhere to get people to participate,'' she said. ''It's not just bringing people here. This is a beautiful site and a wonderful facility. Everyone loves it who comes. The number of entries in all tennis tournaments are down nationwide. The largest age group for our tournament is 50, 55, 60 and 65. After that it decreases and before that there aren't as many players.''
Categories start at age 35 and go up into the 90s. Pickens said the oldest competitor this summer will be 85.
Men's Singles kicks off the tournament and Doubles will be played Friday. The tournament, which is free to the public, wraps up Sunday.
''We love to have people come and watch,'' Pickens said. ''These guys enjoy sitting around and socializing with the local people.
''The facility is in wonderful shape. Oglebay has put a lot of time in putting the finishing touches on it to make it look perfect. They're going to add new benches, painting lines and cleaning. It is a lot of work. It helps that we have a lot of members from the Oglebay tennis club. They're broken down into committees and the committees take care of different things.''
A handful of local players - including Brett Andrews, Mark Panepinto, Greg McDermott, Chris Freeman and Tournament Director Chuck Wylie - are also entered in the tournament.