As J.D. Weber sees things, the Lake Norman Tennis Association’s primary mission is to promote the sport.
That’s why LNTA will hold its first Tennis Expo – to get the word out to interested players of all levels.
“This is just one of the ways we’re going to promote tennis,” said Weber, LNTA’s president. “This is something we’re going to do for the players in the area, to have a fun day.
“We’re doing a little bit of business and a little bit of pleasure, but all the other things are for the players to have a little fun.”
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The inaugural LNTA Tennis Expo will be held from 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Jan. 30 in the main ballroom at The Peninsula Club, located at 19101 Peninsula Club Dr. in Cornelius.
“We’re expecting a really good turnout,” said event organizer Rochelle Dearman. “I’m sure it could turn out to be big.”
Work on the LNTA Tennis Expo actually began in March 2014, when then-LNTA president Wendy Fairer approached Dearman about organizing such an event.
“I had put events together before, so she approached me about how I would feel about doing this for us,” Dearman said. “She said ‘It would be great publicity, and a great tie-in for the tennis community.’
“So I began selling it to those in the tennis industry, but in the last couple weeks it’s really gotten some momentum.”
According to Dearman, this week’s LNTA Tennis Expo will have more than 30 vendors ranging from internationally-known equipment and clothing manufacturers such as Wilson, Prince and Babolat; representatives from The Peninsula, River Run and Westport tennis clubs and the new Lake Norman Tennis Center; and other local vendors catering to tennis players.
“We’re also going to have free tennis yoga classes, to teach players how to warm up to prevent injuries,” Dearman said. “USTA (U.S. Tennis Association) officials will also speak about ratings, because everyone’s curious about how the ratings system will play out – that’s always one of the biggest questions – and we’ll also have our USTA team captains and junior team captains meetings for the spring.”
Dearman also said that plans are still being worked on to have a coach from one of the region’s college tennis teams speak during the LNTA Tennis Expo, but that had not been finalized.
“We want to get someone to speak to the junior’s parents about recruiting,” Dearman said. “That’s a big question the parents have.”
The LNTA has been one of the fastest-growing USTA club-level organizations in North Carolina. According to Weber, participation numbers among the group’s adult-level players increased 16 percent over the past 12 months, and 13 percent among junior-level players.
The LNTA has also played host to last year’s USTA 40-over state league championships, and had eight of its club teams win state championships and advance to USTA sectional play.
“The (tennis) community is huge out here,” Dearman said. “There are over 1,000 women playing in the interclub leagues. It’s not just USTA and LNTA – it’s a huge tennis community here.”
That’s why there’s already been some initial planning for a second LNTA Tennis Expo, according to Weber.
“I’m sure that if this is a hit, we’ll continue doing it, and we’ll get better at it,” Weber said.