The authority successfully bid on the tennis tournament for two years — 2001 and 2002. This year, the Georgia Tennis Association is asking for one-year bids, and the recreation authority plans to submit one.
Bob Saylors, executive director of the authority, agreed that the tournament, which wraps up play today in Rome before returning again this weekend, is important to the community.
“The tournament stayed in Macon for a number of years, and we want to keep it coming back to Rome for several more years,” Saylors said. “We are excited about this event.”
Gertrude Peckham, U.S.A. League Tennis state coordinator, said bid packets have been sent out and are due back to the Georgia Tennis Association by June 15.
“The selection committee would like to have a decision made by the first week in July,” Peckham said.
Members of the selection committee will visit cities submitting bids for the tournament if necessary.
“Most of the committee members will have been in Rome in 2001 or this year and are familiar with your facilities,” she said.
Bobby Walker, director of the Rome-Floyd Tennis Center, said Rome’s success in hosting the tournament last year and again this year gives it a leg up on other communities that may bid on it.
“We have put ourselves in a position to have a good chance to get the 2003 tournament,” Walker said. “Right now, Rome is one of only two cities in Georgia that have the facilities to put the tournament on.”
But that is changing, he said.
“New tennis facilities are being built all over the South to compete for large tennis events,” he said.
Birmingham, Ala., Chattanooga, Tenn., and Lexington, S.C., have built new public tennis centers in the past three years, and in Georgia, Peachtree City and Columbus are expanding existing public tennis facilities.
“While Rome’s facilities are ample for our local community, all of the cities mentioned have passed us by in terms of a facility to host a large event,” Walker said. “It will eventually put us at a competitive disadvantage when trying to bid on other tennis events.”
One solution would be to build a covered tennis facility with at least eight courts, he said.
“If we had eight covered courts, we would never lose the bid,” Walker said. “Another key is the ability to have the maximum number of courts at one site.”
Currently, Rome uses 66 courts spread over six venues stretching across the county from Alto Park to Floyd College.
The tournament brings in 2,500 to 2,700 players and between 1,300 to 2,000 family members into town for the tournament, which is split between two weekends.
Walker said he believes Rome’s chances for a successful bid are good.
“The players all had a good experience in Rome,” Walker said. “I kept hearing from the players how much they enjoyed the city of Rome.
“Our tournament also was named the Georgia and Southern Team Tennis event of the year.