Winthrop tennis player charged following chase

A Winthrop University tennis player found urinating in a park led police on a motorcycle chase, ditching his passenger before he surrendered in front of a Rock Hill elementary school Friday night.

Dylan David Comerford, a 20-year-old men’s tennis player for the Winthrop Eagles, will be suspended for a couple of weeks next semester after police charged him with public disorderly conduct, dirivng without a license and operating an uninsured vehicle, university athletics officials confirmed.

At about 11:30 p.m., a campus police officer saw Comerford speed on a black motorcycle at the intersection of Myrtle Drive and Oakland Avenue while a passenger was also on the bike, according to a Winthrop police report. The officer tried to stop Comeford, but he continued to speed away until the officer lost sight of him.

The officer searched for the motorcycle, eventually finding it in Winthrop Park on Eden Terrace, the report states. Comerford, the driver, stood next to the bike urinating.

When Comerford spotted the officer, police say he jumped on his bike and “recklessly” zoomed away through the park, leaving his passenger behind, the report states. The officer followed the motorcycle through the park before Comerford pulled out onto Cherry Road without checking for traffic. The officer continued following Comerford as he steered the bike back onto Myrtle Drive and then took a right onto Ridge Road, reaching speeds in excess of 65 mph.

Eventually, Comerford turned onto Richmond Drive, the report states. The officer continued following Comerford, turning on his car’s blue lights and sirens until Comerford pulled over in front of Richmond Drive Elementary School, got off the bike and put his hands up to signal that he was giving up.

Police arrested Comerford, charging him with reckless driving, the report states. Comerford told the officer he did not have any insurance or a license. The bike was towed and Comerford taken to jail, where he was also charged with public disorderly conduct, operating an uninsured vehicle and driving without a license.

Comerford, a native of Johannesburg, South Africa, was released from jail on a more than $1,380 bond. A junior business administration major and Dean’s List student, Comerford started playing tennis for Winthrop three years ago after playing in South Africa, where he was ranked number 2 in the top 250 in the world for juniors.

While at Winthrop, he was honored as a Big South Freshman of the Week; named a finalist in the UGA Southern Intercollegiate Championship Doubles while a freshman; won the Winthrop fall invitational for 2011 and 2012 in singles; won both his singles and doubles flight at the Charlotte 49ers invitational; and played positions 2-4 in singles and 1 and 2 in doubles.

Comerford, who plays at the university on scholarship, will not be allowed to play in any of the team’s games for a couple of weeks next semester, said Jack Frost, Winthrop Athletics spokesman. He will likely miss some of his “indoor season” matches, and the coach might assign him other team duties.

“He’s our number one singles player,” Frost said, adding that Comerford typically plays against the opposing team’s “best competitors.”