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Granger Invitational returns

By KEVIN ECKLEBERRY

Daily News

For three decades, some of the top high-school tennis players in Georgia have called LaGrange their home for one weekend.

The Granger Invitational began in 1992, and it quickly developed into one of the state’s largest and most prestigious high-school tournaments.

The 30th Granger Invitational will be held on Friday and Saturday, with dozens of teams competing for the top spot in the four different divisions on the girls’ and boys’ sides.

Matches will held at the McCluskey Tennis Complex, Callaway High, Callaway Gardens, as well as Northgate High in Coweta County.

The Granger Invitational was started by Kenny Moore, who has been LaGrange High’s tennis coach since 1991.

Moore wanted to do something special for his players, and hopefully help create something that would stand the test of time.

“I wasn’t thinking about 2021, but I was thinking a bunch of years,” said Moore, who has more than 800 wins as LaGrange’s coach. “When we started in 1992, I wanted to have 16 schools here, which was a real stretch to get 16, before email, before cellphones. I just called the schools. I never dreamed that several years later we’d have 40 schools, and 80 teams in it.”

The tournament has been held non-stop since 1992, with the exception of one year.

The 2020 Granger Invitational was about to begin when all sporting events in Troup County were shut down because of COVID-19.

“It got called off the day before. We were all ready,” Moore said. “We appreciate this one even more, without a doubt.”

Since many of the teams generally come from distant parts of the state, the tournament has provided a positive economic impact on Troup County.

“I just think it’s cool for what it does for our program, and what it does for our community,” Moore said. “It brings a lot of people our way. To be a part of that, it’s special to me.”

In part, the Granger Invitational serves as a fund-raiser, and it has allowed LaGrange to host a tournament on Jekyll Island each spring.

“When we started this, we wanted to start something for our kids to have a tournament where they could compete, and then it turned into just a fantastic fundraiser,” Moore said. “We’re able to do some special things. We’re blessed.”

As far as the competition goes, both LaGrange teams are looking to make a championship run in Division II.

The Lady Grangers (9-0) haven’t lost this season, and they captured the top spot in the Jekyll Jam with a 3-0 record.

The Grangers (8-1) have only lost once this season, and that setback came in the Jekyll Jam as they went 2-1 and finished third.

Both LaGrange teams will play Calhoun on Friday at noon at McCluskey.

“It’s a tough draw,” Moore said. “We’re in Division II in the boys and girls, but it’s tough.”

LaGrange has second teams entered as well, and they’ll compete in Division IV.

LaGrange’s boys’ team plays Heard County at noon at Callaway Gardens, and the LaGrange girls’ team will face Heard County at 4 p.m. at Heard County.

Callaway’s boys’ teams will also participate in the tournament in Division III.

Callaway will play twice on Friday, beginning with a match against Union Grove at 1 p.m. at Callaway Gardens.