For the first time, Conway hosted the Arkansas Activities Association (AAA) state tennis tournament.

The University of Central Arkansas agreed to let the tournament be played on its courts after Conway Christian tennis coach Penny Vaught spearheaded an effort to host the event in Conway.

"We are very thankful that UCA offered to partner with us," Vaught said.

Conway Christian Athletic Director Justin Kramer, who acted as AAA state tournament director, said having the tournament in Conway was a great idea

"Conway, as a city, is a perfect location for something like this with all the restaurants and shopping and convenience — as far as getting on and off the interstate and a central location — it makes perfect sense to have it here," he said.

Kramer said having the state tournament at UCA gave the school an opportunity to show off its facilities to potential future student-athletes.

"Penny wanted to host it to get people here to see UCA’s facilities," he said. "UCA allowing us to have it here is great for them as far as potential tennis players that they might want to come here and play."

Doubles players from Mulberry Adam Hoyle and Rick Reeves agreed. Monday was their first time to see UCA and the pair said they were impressed.

"I’ve never been to this campus before," Reeves said. "It’s nice. Everything is max potential. I would go [to college] here."

Vaught wanted to ensure the players enjoyed themselves and had a little help from students at Compass Academy — the Conway Christian school for kids with development delays — in making it happen.

The students stuffed empty tennis ball cans with snacks and notes of encouragement for each the 96 registered players.

"That’s something I’ve done for our players in the past before district tournament. I wanted some kind of treat for the tournament players. It’s a good way to recycle used tennis ball cans that usually just get thrown away," Vaught said.

Hoyle said he was thrilled with his can. His note read "You’re amazing" and the treats inside were some of his favorites.

"As soon as I opened it, I saw a Twix," he said with a grin. "I love it. Plus it’s such good encouragement. I’m very appreciative."