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Press Releases

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Purnell-Thomas Memorial Tennis Tournament Returns to SU August 13-17


Jack Purnell Chris Thomas
Jack Purnell Chris Thomas

SALISBURY, MD---Professional-level tennis returns to Salisbury with the fifth annual Jack Purnell-Chris Thomas Memorial Tennis Tournament held August 13-17 at Salisbury University. Proceeds benefit Coastal Hospice.

In this men’s open singles and doubles tournament, a total of $40,000 in prize money is up for grabs, including $8,000 to the singles winner and $4,000 to the singles runner-up.

Some of the nation’s top Division I tennis players as well as many professional players ranked as high as 150 in the world will be entering the draw. Expected to return to this year’s tournament is the two-time NCAA Division I national champion from the University of Virginia, Somdev Devvarman (India) as well as his doubles partner, Treat Huey (USA). Swedish Davis Cup player and former Australian junior champion Bjorn Rehnquist and team mate Marcus Sarstrand are also expected to return to Salisbury this year.

Many of the professional players take advantage of the proximity of this tournament to the US Open Tennis Championships in New York City as a warm-up and practice for the Open. The court surface and weather conditions, including heat and humidity are similar to those the players experience in the Big Apple in late August.

Several tournament players join local teaching pros Pam Wiseman and Chris Robbins for a community clinic for children and adults on Saturday, August 16, for a nominal donation. Registrations for the clinics are accepted daily at the courts. 

This year’s tournament sponsors include Thomas P. Monahan, LLC, The Bank of Delmarva, Kuhn’s Jewelers and Three Lower Counties Community Services, Inc.

The tournament is named in honor of two late local tennis players. Born in 1929, Purnell was an avid baseball player and went on to become the youngest general manager for a farm team of the Cincinnati Reds before working in the public relations office of the National Baseball League. After returning to Salisbury he purchased and operated his family’s business, Kuhn’s Jewelers, and took up tennis and golf. He was a community advocate and founding board member of Coastal Hospice prior to dying of cancer in 2002.

Thomas grew up in Southern New Jersey and Salisbury.  A natural athlete, he was a graduate of SU, where he was a member of the men’s tennis team. He left the East Coast in 1980 to work as a tennis pro in Hawaii and Guam. He returned to the area in 1981 to fight a year-long battle with cancer, dying in 1982 at age 27.

Admission is free and the public is invited. Play is continuous daily from 10 a.m.-9:30 p.m. For more information visit the tournament Web site at, or contact tournament coordinator Michele Thomas at 410-548-1100, ext. 1029, or

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