City Champs: Coach from Illinois school takes men’s singles title, Sanders siblings win doubles titles

Brett Brannon lives 3 1/2 hours away from Columbus in western Illinois, but the past four days, he felt right at home.

The Alhambra, Illinois, resident made his trip a worthwhile one when he captured the Men’s Open Singles title at the 2022 Columbus City Open Tennis Championships.

“I try to play one tournament out of the area every summer,” Brannon said. “My sister lives in Indianapolis, so I’m pretty familiar with the area. I just found this tournament online, and talked to Mike a little bit and found out it was kind of a family-oriented tournament. I just thought it sounded like a fun tournament to come and play different players.”

Brannon, the director of advancement and head men’s and women’s tennis coach at Greenville (Illinois) University, beat Columbus North junior Amrit Kar 6-1, 6-3 in the final Monday night.

Brannon was leading 3-0 at North High School when rain came and forced all of the matches inside to Tipton Lakes Athletic Club. About a half-hour later, he picked up where he left off.

“At my age, I feel good some days, and some days, I don’t,” Brannon said. “Today, I felt pretty good. I play quite a few tournaments in the summer, so usually by the end of the summer, I feel a little bit better. So I felt like I was ready to play some of my best tennis coming into this weekend.”

Amrit Kar of Columbus hits a shot during the men’s open singles final tennis match in the 2022 Columbus City Open Tennis Championships at Columbus North High School in Columbus, Ind., Monday, Aug. 1, 2022.

Mike Wolanin | The Republic

Amrit Kar of Columbus hits a shot during the men’s open singles final tennis match in the 2022 Columbus City Open Tennis Championships at Columbus North High School in Columbus, Ind., Monday, Aug. 1, 2022.

Mike Wolanin | The Republic

Kar advanced to the final when defending champion Matt Malinsky, the coach at Columbus East, had to withdraw because of contact tracing. But Kar ran into a brick wall in Brannon.

“He’s an amazing player,” Kar said. “He was pulling out shots like I’ve never seen before, like the deep slice right on the line. It was tough to play against. It was a tough opponent, and I was kind of struggling, but once I got in my groove, I started playing a little better. I got my serve in, and I think I played overall pretty well.”

Former Columbus North standout Anthony Sanders was paired with Malinsky for the Men’s Open Doubles draw before North sophomore Hank Lin replaced Malinsky. Sanders and Lin rallied for a 4-6, 7-6 (5), (10-3) victory against Michael Schoumacher of Columbus and Andrew Schiffman of Rancho Sante Fe, California, in the final.

Anthony Sanders

“I was trying to get Matt to play, and it just wasn’t going to happen,” Sanders said. “So I was trying to think of guys that could maybe fill in, and luckily I asked Hank, and he said he’d play, so it worked out.”

Sanders, an engineer at Valeo in Seymour, also is an assistant tennis coach at North. Lin, who likely will take over the No. 1 singles spot for the Bull Dogs, went through the first practice of the season before Monday night’s city final.

Hank Lin

“My legs were actually really dead after practice because we ran a lot,” Lin said. “But I’m lucky Anthony asked me.”

Melissa Sanders

Meanwhile, Sanders’ sister Melissa was a part of the winning Women’s Open Doubles pair. She teamed with Seymour native Karen Dringenburg, her former doubles partner at Franklin College.

“It’s a flashback to our college years,” said Melissa Sanders, who teaches kindergarten at CSA-Lincoln. “Our communication was the same. That was all good.”

Karen Dringenburg

Melissa Sanders and Dringenburg, a CPA at Blue and Company in Seymour, beat Julia Bergman and former East standout Kathryn Hodzen 6-2, 6-0 in Monday’s final.

“We were a little rusty at the beginning,” Dringenburg said. “It took a second. But especially at the end, you could see we were getting back in our rhythm.”

Carl Fry of Columbus hits a shot during the men’s 2.5 singles final tennis match in the 2022 Columbus City Open Tennis Championships at Columbus North High School in Columbus, Ind., Monday, Aug. 1, 2022.

Mike Wolanin | The Republic

Caue Petraglia Benedetti of Columbus hits a shot during the men’s 2.5 singles final tennis match in the 2022 Columbus City Open Tennis Championships at Columbus North High School in Columbus, Ind., Monday, Aug. 1, 2022.

Mike Wolanin | The Republic

There was no Women’s Open Singles division, but four other city titles were decided on Monday night. Kable Walton of Seymour beat Andy Scheidler of Greensburg 6-4, 6-0 in the Men’s 4.0 Singles final, and Carl Fry of Columbus topped Caue Petraglia Benedetti of Columbus 6-3, 6-4 in the Men’s 2.5 Singles final.

Mashiro Sato of Columbus hits a shot during the men’s 40+ singles final tennis match in the 2022 Columbus City Open Tennis Championships at Columbus North High School in Columbus, Ind., Monday, Aug. 1, 2022.

Mike Wolanin | The Republic

Mashiro Soto of Columbus beat John Daniel Hopkins of Terre Haute 6-2, 6-1 in the Men’s 40-and-over Singles final. Brett Kelch and Scott Bailey, both of Columbus, defeated Jim St. John and Mark Johnson, both of Columbus, in the Men’s 40-and-over Doubles final.