The Roswell proposal for the Angela Krause Tennis, Pickleball and Fitness Center at Roswell's Big Creek park calls for 80 clay courts spread over approximately 60 acres. An indoor facility is being planned to accommodate up to 12 courts. The rest would be outdoor hard courts.
Sasseville said the largely clay court facility in Roswell would appeal to a very different group of players.
"Clay court, it's almost a different game," said Sasseville between trophy presentations for the consolation draw at the Girls 14 & U event Thursday.
“One of the things we have in Georgia is that in the winter time, we're in an area where the courts are subject to freeze so that can take them out of play. If you're running an event in the summer time there are a lot of maintenance issues associated with them. You don't just put people out and put another match behind it."
"If it wasn't Roswell I expected another community to build such a tennis center," said Rome Mayor Jamie Doss. The fact that it's close to Rome can be beneficial to the Rome Tennis Center. Mark Dodd, at the RTC agrees with the mayor. He said that with the massive clay court complex, much of the tennis world could focus on Georgia in the future. "It may actually enhance the Rome Tennis Center," Dodd said.
Danny Carlson, who grew up in Rome but has run the Atlanta Tennis Inc. training academy for several years, will be closely involved in the management of the center in Roswell.
"We're trying to grow the game of tennis. I've still got personal ties to Rome since I grew up there and that's the last thing I want to do is step on their parade," Carlson said.
Many of the tournaments in Rome are events the Roswell center would not consider, according to Carlson, specifically mentioning the Georgia High School Association championships. Those are required to be played on hard courts.
"We're trying to use this more as a clay court facility for tournaments and a training facility for the hard courts." He is hoping that Georgia State and Kennesaw State will consider the facility for their home courts.
Carlson said the Roswell facility would be developed in stages over a time frame that would be dictated by private funding sources. The first phase would involve about 40 clay courts and an undetermined number of hard courts.
Sasseville also said the clientele for clay courts is a different clientele. "Typically the clay court player is usually an older player or a player preparing for a clay court event somewhere," said Sasseville. "Most of the events, like junior events, most of the events on the national schedule are going to be hard court events."
"The fact that we are strictly hard courts put us in a different arena," said Doss.
Rome Tennis Center Director Tom Daglis reacted to the announcement from Roswell by saying since that facility would be privately owned and operated he suspects they would want to operate on more than a break-even scale.
"Their whole business plan could be very different from ours," Daglis said. “I don't see it really being that competitive against us for hard courts."
Daglis also said intangibles such as Rome's Southern hospitality and charm also make Rome attractive to tournaments.
"People want to come here so I think we will continue to be very strong, we will continue to grow and as they develop all around us we'll see how the chips fall," Daglis said. “Some of the key events you may want to bid on may not be available for four or five years. It's not something you can get into the business with all at once."
Daglis did admit the tennis governing bodies like to spread around bids for events.
"They want the consumer to be happy and that's where we get very high marks. The consumer loves us here," Daglis said.
The RTC Director also said that many of the top junior tennis players do play on clay courts as well, but that he did not anticipate the Roswell facility would really hurt Rome.
Sasseville, who has brought numerous tournaments to Rome, said the out-of-town players response to coming to the Rome facility has been overwhelmingly positive.
"Having the facility here where players can play the event and have practice courts on the same site is really a bonus, and the players really appreciate it," Sasseville said.
Rome Floyd Chamber President Al Hodge said the Roswell facility would obviously present a challenge, but that he was confident the community will respond in a positive way. Doss said he wasn't looking at the Roswell center as a setback for Rome, but an opportunity to grow tennis into an even bigger benefit to Rome and Floyd County.
"Rome has a goal to not only be a tennis destination, but a sports destination and a tourist destination," Doss said. “We are motivated to grow the area around our tennis and the city is very pleased with the success so far.”
City officials have approved the issuance of bonds, estimated to be $4 million, for six new covered courts to make the Rome Tennis Center even more competitive in its bidding for both regional and national hard court events.