pub courts cochran

Bud Cochran (left) and his son Mark Cochran (right) came to Charleston from Fort Myers, Florida, to participate in the Public Courts tournament.

Outside of perhaps the Open categories, the Public Courts tournament is as much about camaraderie, relationships and fun as it is anything else.

Those things were certainly on display on Saturday night as Bud and Mark Cochran took the court in a 3.5 men’s doubles match.

The two formed a father-son combination, and though Bud estimated he had played in the event for around 25 years, Mark was making his first appearance after just picking the game up a few years ago.

“He’s got 30 or 35 years on me so I expect him to carry us,” Mark Cochran joked.

“Good luck with that,” Bud replied.

Whatever happens on the court, it presented the two an opportunity to play in Charleston, a place the family has spent many years.

Bud Cochran worked for Exxon and, after being transferred to multiple states, landed in Charleston in the late 1960s. Mark and his four siblings grew up here, attended Charleston Catholic and then left for college.

Eight years ago, Bud moved to Fort Myers, Florida, but still spends his summers in Charleston. Mark meanwhile moved to Baltimore, Maryland in 2002, the place Bud was born, and then relocated to Fort Myers four years ago. There, he and his father play in over-50 tennis leagues together, but no matter how long they’ve been gone, there are things about Charleston that still feel like home.

“I can’t go up Corridor G or to Kroger or to the gym without seeing people i know,” Mark said. “It’s funny, people say, ‘I never see you,’ and I say, ‘I don’t live here anymore.’ ”

“The community is great and it’s a super tennis community,” Bud concurred. “Everyone that you play with or meet are congenial, so it’s a lovely place to be.”

Mark made his way to Fort Myers after visiting a few times.

“I started playing golf with him on Thanksgiving and started looking at the palm trees and thought, ‘This isn’t so bad,’ ” Mark said. “Then the state tax went away and I thought, ‘What am I waiting for?’ ”

Mark, a financial advisor for Wells Fargo Advisors, is brought to Charleston for a week each month and it just so happened that the week of the Public Courts was his week to be in. He too splits his time, spending seven months of the year with his home in Fort Myers and the rest of the year in Baltimore. But he added that he still enjoys his visits back to the Mountain State.

“I come here every month and I cycle all of these hills,” he said. “It’s like a paradise here. People don’t realize how good it is.”

As far as their prospects on the court, the two were slated to play against Dana Eddy and Whitney Hess on Saturday with a disagreement about just who was going to carry the load. Either way, both expect it to be an enjoyable event, for however long they stick around in the tournament.

“He does small triathlons, he’s a good athlete,” Bud said. “His game is improving and he’s very, very quick. He can run a lot of balls down, I just keep saying the orders.

“We play in Florida together so we’ll enjoy it, and if we go further than that we always enjoy the people we play with. It’s really a pleasure.”

Reach Ryan Pritt at 304-348-7948, or follow him @RPritt on Twitter.