Nearly 400 competitors from 10 states are in Floyd County this weekend for the Georgia Junior Open tennis championships.
Play begins Saturday at the Rome Tennis Center, off the Armuchee Connector, and is scheduled to run through Tuesday. Spectators can drop in to watch the matches for free.
The tournament is so large that action will also take place at the Downtown Tennis Center on West Third Street.
Lisa Smith, executive director of Georgia’s Rome Office of Tourism, said that everyone on her staff is on call for the tournament, to work along with the U.S. Tennis Association officials that come in to help oversee the event.
“Our goal is to build up a tournament volunteer base,” Smith said. “That’s going to be our next big recruiting pitch, but right now a lot of folks who would normally serve as volunteers are just not coming out (because of COVID-19). We’re making do with what we have.”
The player seating areas are sanitized between every match and bleacher seating is cordoned off to force spectators to physically distance from one another.
During the Georgia Junior Open Challenger event two weeks ago, most of the players’ families and friends brought their own lawn chairs and sat out in the grassy areas somewhat away from the courts.
A number of players who came for that event are slated to be back including Eythan Ward of Conyers, Stephen Zhu of Marietta and Robert McAdoo, who each won boys age group championships. Sasha Dimitrov of Alpharetta, a winner in a girls competition, also is returning, along with Gracie Koch of Louisville, Kentucky, a runner-up.
The Rome Tennis Center is picking up a little extra money this weekend by selling practice time slots to players for the indoor courts, which were completed earlier this year.
Tournament officials put a note on the website about the availability and the time slots started to fill up quickly Friday.
The top seeds for the Georgia Junior Open tournament are:
♦ Will Kistler of Atlanta and AnnCabot Stockett of Madison, Mississippi, in the 18&U divisions;
♦ Myan Ponugoti of Suwanee and Caroline Myers of Huntersville, North Carolina, in the 16&U divisions;
♦ Henry Imorde of Lookout Mountain, Tennessee, and Lilly Lancaster of Cumming in the 14&U category;
♦ Jake Mong of Marietta and Teri Brantley of Atlanta in the 12&U division; and
♦ Henry Hiatt of Meridian, Mississippi, and Peyton Standifer of Birmingham, Alabama, in the 10&U age group.