State tourney returns to LaGrange
Published 7:57 pm Thursday, August 2, 2018
By KEVIN ECKLEBERRY
Nearly 700 tennis players will make LaGrange their temporary home over the next three days.
The USTA Georgia tri-level state championship will be held this weekend, and there will be 59 teams and 657 players participating in the tournament that will be held at McCluskey Tennis Center, LaGrange College and Callaway High.
Assuming Mother Nature cooperates, the action will get started today at 8 a.m., and the championship matches in the different divisions will be on Sunday afternoon.
The event is being hosted by the Chattahoochee Area Tennis Association, and Karen Bryant is the tournament director.
She’ll have plenty of help.
“It’s a community effort,” Bryant said on Thursday morning while overlooking the soggy courts at McCluskey Tennis Center. “We have a lot of volunteers, and I could not do this tournament without them.”
One of the people who helps make the tournament happen is Bill Champion, the head professional at McCluskey.Champion will be at the tennis center early this morning getting the courts ready to go.
“I just say we need this, this, and this, and he knows what to do,” Bryant said. “He takes good care of these courts, and he’s great with the facility.”
The first-ever tri-level state championship was held in 2012, and it has been contested in LaGrange every year since then.
There were less than 300 players for the first tournament, and that number has more than doubled since.
“It’s been good for LaGrange,” Bryant said. “Everybody stays in hotels, so it’s supporting the community.”
The first year the tournament was held, officials with the USTA approached CHATA about hosting it in LaGrange.
This year for the first time there was a bid process, with different tennis organizations from across the state looking to host the tournament.
CHATA was the winner, and the tournament will be in LaGrange for the next two years.
“They worked hard to give us this bid back,” Bryant said. “And the players, they love coming here.”
Tri-level tennis allows people of varying skill levels to be on the same team.
Usually, teams are composed of players with the same USTA rating, but the tri-level format allows players with different ratings to be teammates.
“You can play with friends who are better than you,” Bryant said. “You’ve got three different levels, so that’s always fun.”
Five teams representing CHATA will participate.
There will be four women’s teams, and one men’s team, and they’re all scheduled to be in action today.
CHATA has had numerous state champions over the years.
“Some of our teams always make it far, which is great,” Bryant said.