CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- The last time James Kent played in the men's open singles event at the Charleston Public Courts tennis tournament was in 2010, when he was forced to retire in the semifinals due to a bad back.
That retirement lasted much longer than a single match as it turned out, as the seven-time champion has been absent from the event since.
That changed on Saturday as Kent quietly began a quest to reclaim a title he once owned.
After a tight first portion of the match, Kent wore down and overwhelmed Jacob Lorenz 6-3, 6-1 in earning a second-round win. Kent, the tournament's No. 3 seed, had a bye through the first round.
If Saturday is any indication, Kent knows he has a long hill to climb.
"He's the toughest first or second-round match I've ever had here, ever," Kent said.
Maybe it's a bit ironic that Kent chose this year to return.
The former Capital High School standout is currently tied for the most men's open championships in the event's history along with Hurricane native Kevin Ball.
Kent won all of his championships between 1997-2005 until giving way to a dominant stretch by reigning and defending champion Patrick Walker.
Walker currently has six titles under his belt and, after defeating Christopher Pratt in last year's final, didn't exactly hide his ultimate goal.
"[Six titles] means a lot," Walker said at the time. "It means I'm one step closer to James Kent. I'm hoping James gets out there so he can battle for the seventh one. I'm going for the record now obviously, but it's good. It means a lot to me."