Referee and organizer Robert Sasseville said 650 players registered for the tournament, which will last until Wednesday, unless it rains, and the players come from 27 different states, and one is even from Dubai, a country situated along the coast of the Persian Gulf.
The first day of the tournament is always busy, Sasseville said, but the Georgia State Junior Open is an ideal way for players to improve their rankings and expose their skills to national recruiters.
“This tournament is what is considered a national tournament for Tennisrecruiting.net,” he said, adding that officials from the recruiting organization have been taking photos of players all day.
Out on the courts, some onlookers sought solace from the sun’s rays by sitting beneath large umbrellas as their heads moved from left to right, then back to the left. Intently watching her daughter play, Velvet Ferrari of Rome said the Georgia State Junior Open has top-notch courts for players.
“Being from Rome, I think we have a lot of the best facilities that we’ve been to,” she said. “It’s a very high level tournament, we’re happy it’s here.”
Ferrari said Caroline, 16, has been playing since she was 9 years old and strives to play Division One college tennis.
Preston Morpeth, 14, from Midland, had just finished a match, and blinking sweat from his eyes, said one day he wants to be a professional.
“I played pretty good,” he said of the match he’d just finished. “I won more points than him. I play really frequently and I’m not yet 16, but I’m going to starting playing it to get my ranking up.”
Nearby, Helen and Milton Powell, of Cusseta, watched their 17-year-old daughter Haley compete. Helen Powell said Haley, who has been playing since she was 5, plans to play in college and has been training hard to reach that goal.
The key to playing well, Powell said, is calculating and creating strategies based on your opponent’s weaknesses. “It’s definitely physically challenging, but you have to outthink your opponent.”
The Powells travel to many tennis tournaments and they very much like coming to Rome.
“It’s a very well-run tournament,” she said.