Palmetto championships

Youth tennis: Mighty mite swats way to title

Special to The StateJune 4, 2012 

— At 4-foot-1 and 52 pounds, Calissa Dellabarca likely has opponents underestimating her constantly.

But the 8-year-old from Blythewood is building a weighty reputation as a tough competitor and justified her No. 1 seed in the girls’ 10-and-under singles division of the Palmetto Championships.

Dellabarca beat 10-year-old Crawford Latham of Columbia in the final Sunday at the Anderson Sports and Entertainment Center.

Dellabarca has been playing for four years and won a doubles title in the 10s of the 2011 Palmetto.

“It feels about the same,” she said, when asked to compare the two titles after picking up the spoils that accompanied her latest championship: a shiny plaque, a medal around her neck and a wristwatch.

She competed in the tournament’s Quick Start format for 10-and-under players — involving a smaller racquet, a low-compression ball, a shorter court and simpler scoring system.

“The balls are a bit easier. They don’t bounce all over your head,” said Dellabarca, a rising third-grader at Round Top Elementary.

Her mother, De Anna Dellabarca, is a relative newcomer to the sport and admitted her daughter has a definite edge when they face each other across the net.

“We haven’t actually finished a set. There’d be too many boo-hoos, probably from me,” she said.

Her father, Casey Dellabarca, said the family’s celebration already is planned.

“There are big plans for a water slide at home,”’ he said.

Runner-up Latham, the No. 3 seed, has been playing tennis for three years. She said this was her first year in the Palmetto.

The rising fifth-grader at the Center for Knowledge in Columbia had won the Palmetto 10s doubles title with partner Carrington Callihan of Myrtle Beach by the time she stepped on the court for the singles final.

Dellabarca won the match, 4-2, 4-0.

“In every match except this one I went to a tie-breaker for the third set. So that was a little tough on me,” Latham said.

“It was hard, but I had fun,” she added.

The Palmetto boys’ singles final in the 10s is scheduled for today.

Officially known as the Chick-fil-A of Anderson Palmetto Championships, the 2012 tournament has approximately 400 South Carolina juniors, age 18 and under, competing in singles and doubles.

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