Some of North Carolina’s best tennis players will arrive in Lake Norman this month for a four-day state tournament that for years has been held at such prestigious locations as Pinehurst. The tournament, which kicks off June 27, is just one more indicator of the area’s thriving tennis community. “We’re very excited about this opportunity and hope it will be the first of many events,” says Wendy Fairer, president of the Lake Norman Tennis Association, which is hosting the tournament along with Visit Lake Norman. “We’re really starting to develop a brand awareness as more people realize we represent tennis very well here at the lake.”It was through the efforts of Fairer and other LNTA members that Lake Norman was able to land the United States Tennis Association League Adult State Championships both this year and next. Each event is expected to draw about 1,700 competitors along with 500 spectators. Not only is the tournament a coup for tennis fans, but it will also provide a big economic boost for the area. Director of sales for Visit Lake Norman Travis Dancy, who helped the LNTA put together a winning bid for the tournament, says the event will bring nearly $1 million to the area as guests fill up local hotels and eat at area restaurants.“This is the biggest state-level tournament we’ve been involved with,” says Dancy. “And it’s a whole new demographic we’re bringing to town—tennis tends to have an older, affluent demographic with more discretionary income. So this is all music to our ears.”In landing the tournament, Dancy and the LNTA had to show the USTA that the Lake Norman area had enough courts, facilities, and hotels to accommodate such a large influx of players. The championships will be played on 81 courts at 12 different sites, including River Run Country Club, Charlotte Racquet Club North, The Peninsula, North Mecklenburg Park, Cornelius Road Park, Jetton Park, Holbrook Park, the Concord Sportscenter and Hough, Hopewell and Northburg high schools. The Courtyard Marriot in will serve as the tournament’s headquarters, while the player party will be held at River Run Country Club in Davidson. The tournament, which is for players 18 and over, will determine what teams go on to play at the southeast sectional championships, which will be held at either Auburn, Ala., or Lexington, S.C., in July. Players and teams are divided according to their skill level, which is based on a USTA rating system ranging from 1.5 (beginner) to 7.0 (world-class player). All the players in the Lake Norman championship will be between 3.0 and 5.0.Putting together such a big event is no easy undertaking. LNTA member JD Weber of Sherrills Ford is the tournament chairman, and is in charge of about 120 volunteers who will oversee everything from social events and site coordination to sponsorships and hotels. Mary Wilson, chair of adult programming for the LNTA, says the tournament never could have happened if it wasn’t for the cooperation of the participating high school’s athletic directors, county and city park officials, and Visit Lake Norman. “Hosting this tournament really started as kind of a crazy idea,” says Wilson. “But then we realized we could actually pull this off. It’s a great opportunity to showcase not just the tennis community, but all of Lake Norman.”
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