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Fall tennis tournament canceled

By KEVIN ECKLEBERRY

Daily News

For the past eight years, one of the United State Tennis Association’s premier events has been held in LaGrange.

Since 2012, the Southern Tri-level State Championship has been held at the Ann & Doc McCluskey Tennis Complex.

The event, which is hosted by the Chattahoochee Area Tennis Association, attracts hundreds of competitors each year as they compete to advance to a sectional tournament, and then possibly to the national tournament.

This year’s Tri-level State Championship will not be held, though, because of a decision announced by the USTA last week.

Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, all Georgia-based USTA events for the remainder of the year, including the Tri-Level State Championship in August, have been canceled.

“It was probably the best thing to do,” said Bill Champion, the head professional at the McCluskey Tennis Complex. “It’s tough, but we need to figure out which way this stuff’s going to go.”

Ashley Massengale, the Georgia president of the USTA, said “canceling the state championships was a very distressing decision for our committee because we know how much players enjoy participating in them. However, the players’ health, as well as the health of the numerous volunteers who work the tournaments, comes first. We look forward to the state championships returning in 2021.”

The first Southern Tri-Level State Championship was planned for 2012, and USTA officials approached CHATA about hosting the event in LaGrange. There were less than 300 players the first year, and that number has mushroomed over the years, with close to 700 men and women participating last year.

In 2018 there was a bid process for the first time, and the USTA decided to keep the tournament in LaGrange, a testament to how smoothly things have gone over the years.

Karen Bryant, the tournament director, said putting the event on each year is “a community effort. We have a lot of volunteers, and I could not do this tournament without them.”

The tournament will return to LaGrange in 2021, and possibly beyond.

“We got the bid last year for two years, so we’ll have it for at least one more year, and I suspect they’ll let it be here another year because it got canceled,” Champion said.

While the Tri-Level State Championship won’t be held this year, life is returning to normal at the McCluskey Tennis Complex.

The tennis center re-opened last week after being closed for more than two months, and the hours of operation were extended beginning on Monday.

The tennis center is open from 8 a.m. until 8 p.m. Monday through Friday, and from 8 a.m. until 6 p.m. on Saturdays and Sundays.

For information on activities at the tennis center, call the tennis pro shop at (706) 884-1715.