Go back to 1978, the days of lava lamps, bell-bottoms and disco.
That year, Rome started one of the country’s four-team tennis pilot leagues connected with the United States Tennis Association (USTA). Carver served as the league’s director.
“I kind of felt like we were pioneers,” said Carver, who was that league’s director.
In 1974, when Rome was chosen to be one of the pilot leagues, Coosa Valley Tennis Association co-founder George Wallis got a phone call.
“I don’t remember who called me, but it was an air-traffic controller from Atlanta who played in a tennis league in Atlanta,” said Wallis. “There was a team league in Atlanta, but not the kind that he wanted, so he asked me where would be some great tennis towns to start this new team league.”
Through Wallis’ connections with the USTA, Rome got to host a pilot league. The other pilot leagues were in Birmingham, Ala., Greenville, S.C., and Richmond, Va.
And that became the foundation for what is now the country’s largest tennis tournament — the USA League Tennis Georgia State Championships.
Rome’s first local chapter of the USTA national team concept featured eight squads and involved 280 players.
Wallis also helped bring the country’s first-ever USTA-affiliated team tournament to Rome in 1979 at the eighth-court Rome Tennis Center.
“We were fortunate to host the first one,” said Carver, who also was director of that tournament. “That one lasted only three days.”
There were 290 players in the 1979 tournament, hailing from Rome, LaGrange, Macon, Conyers and Augusta.
For the first time since 1979, the USA League Tennis Georgia State Championships is back in Rome.
Things have changed since then, however — and for the better.
This year’s state team tennis tournament lasts over two four-day weekends (Friday through Monday) with this weekend being the final.
Instead of having just eight courts to compete on like the tournament did in 1979, there are over 190 to choose from available in private and public sectors.
“We didn’t have verifiers either to judge what ratings people played at in the first tournament,” said Carver. “Whatever the level the players said they played at, we believed them.”
Though the Georgia Tennis Association conducted the draw for this year’s tournament, Carver herself did it in 1979.
In this year’s tournament, 216 teams played in Rome over the past two weeks, bringing the amount of tournament players to over 3,000. Wallis, along with fellow Rome tennis pioneer Bernard Neal, are this year’s state tournament honorary referees.
Carver not only is a pioneer for the USA League Tennis Georgia State Championships, she is a pioneer for tennis in Rome