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International para-athletes coming to Rome for tennis tournament

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Clocktower Classic at Rome Tennis Center at Berry College

Brice Croxton (left), of Suwanee, and his doubles partner Jerry Vaughan watch a return during a match of the Clocktower Classic Wheelchair Tennis Tournament at the Rome Tennis Center at Berry College on Saturday, July 22, 2017. (Spencer Lahr / RN-T.com)

The International Tennis Federation will stage a major wheelchair competitor championship at the Rome Tennis Center at Berry College March 14-18.

Ann Hortman, director of the Rome Sports Commission said 25 players are already registered for the event from 14 different countries.

“These are going to be the best of the best,” Hortman said. The event will offer $32,000 in prize money.

Top American players who have committed to the tournament include David Wagner, Nick Taylor and Bryan Barten. Barten played in both the 2012 and 2016 Paralympics and has competed in ten World Team Cup Championships.

Hortman is looking for local families who might be willing to adopt an athlete for the week.

“Hosts could meet them at the airport and bring them to Rome, drive them to and from their hotels to the tennis center and take them for outings during their down time,” Hortman said. “What a great opportunity to share Rome with players from across the globe.”

Among the international players are Joachim Gerard is a top player from Belgium, Gordon Reid and Lucy Shuker from Britain, Lucas Sithole from South Africa David Caverzaschi from Spain, Shingo Kunieda from Japan and Aniek van Koot, Diede de Groot, Maikel Scheffers and Marjolein Buis from the Netherlands,

Kunieda and de Groot just won the men’s and women’s singles title at the Australian Open Wheelchair event.

Rome Tennis Center Director Tom Daglis said competitors are also coming from Portugal, Germany and Sweden.

Hortman is also looking for additional local sponsors for the week long event.