Over 500 teenagers and pre-teens from across Georgia and the Southeast are in Rome this weekend for the 2019 USTA Georgia Junior Open tennis championships.

The event includes competitors who will play in the 10 and under, 12 and under, 14 and under, 16 and under as well as 18 and under age brackets.

The event is not limited to Georgia competitors and has players coming from places like Charlotte, Huntsville, Hilton Head Island, Memphis, New Orleans, Louisville and as far away as San Marcos, Texas. In all, players from ten states will be in Rome for the competition. In addition, 10 local players are registered for the event.

Rome Tennis Center Director of Tennis Bobby Walker said most of the players in the older age brackets are probably capable of playing at the collegiate level and events associated with this tournament are a big part of the draw.

The Tennis Recruiting Network has designated the event for national rankings for the past five years and will host a Collegiate Forum on Saturday night at Berry College in the science auditorium.

Panelists who will participate include Patric Hynes, the men’s and women’s tennis coach at Lee University in Cleveland, Tennessee; Samantha Pinchoff, women’s coach at Lander University in Greenwood, South Carolina; Clay Hightower, men’s and women’s coach at Berry; Tom Daglis, executive director of the Rome Tennis Center; and Mark Dodd of the National Scouting Report.

They panel will provide information as to how colleges evaluate potential players and how players ought to evaluate colleges and find the right balance between tennis and studies.

Dodd said the panelists will try to detail the different rules in place relative to recruiting at the NCAA Division I, II and III, as well as the NAIA and NJCAA for junior colleges.

“We have had standing room only crowds in the past,” Dodd. “It just depends on the how the matches go and what the schedules look like.”

The Georgia Junior Open dates back to 1955 and has been played in Rome since 2003.

While play at the Junior Open goes on this weekend, grading work on the new six-court indoor complex is expected to continue.

Kevin Gurley Inc., a local contractor from Armuchee, was hired to handle the initial site preparation work for the building which has to be completed in advance of the Atlantic Coast Conference tennis championships set for next April.

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