Charlotte is a city full of tennis players of all levels, from beginners to a few professionals.
For those players who want to watch the best players in the city compete there is the Charlotte Pro League presented by Del Frisco’s.
The 11th season of the pro league has started and the playoff finals will be Aug. 27. There is a men’s division made up of eight teams (with 12 players per team) and a women’s division (four teams with five on each).
Teams consist of the best players in the city, from teaching pros at local clubs to those who played collegiately and work in the area. The players in the league have played at some of the best schools in the country, such as Southern California, Virginia and Clemson plus top players from state schools like UNC, Duke, Davidson, Belmont Abbey and Queens.
“It’s a way for people who enjoy tennis to see it up close and at a high level,” Pro League Coordinator Randy Chamberlain said.
Matches are played at local clubs in south Charlotte. The opening night of matches was at Olde Providence Racquet Club, and 10 other facilities will host matches. Most of the facilities put the matches on courts where the most people can watch, and many have food and beverages available for fans.
In the men’s division the format is one singles match and three doubles matches, while the women’s division is one singles match and one doubles match, and at the end of the season the top teams (usually top three in the men’s) win a little bit of money. Each team in the league has a sponsor, which helps pay for their uniforms, court time and prize money.
The money also helps provide support for the Charlotte Special Olympics Tennis Program.
This is the fourth year the league has partnered with the Special Olympics, and Chamberlain says the league has been able to give at least $1,000 per year plus tennis racquet and tennis balls to them. And on opening night (at Olde Providence) the league puts on a small clinic for Special Olympics tennis players and an exhibition prior to the matches with Pro League players partnering with a Special Olympics participant.
It’s a long way from the beginning of the league 11 years ago, which was founded by current Charlotte Tennis Association Executive Director Carla O’Connor with the help of a few local pros. That year O’Connor says there were about 35-40 players (men only).
“The teams are much deeper now and it is really exciting to see so many former Division I players competing,” O’Connor said. “It’s great that these players keep competing in a team format and get to experience the camaraderie the Pro League offers.”
Matt Kline is a freelance writer. Have a story idea for Matt? Email him at Mathew_kline@att.net.
For more information on the Charlotte Pro League presented by Del Frisco’s, go to www.Charlotte.usta.com and click the Pro League link. Rosters, schedules, sponsor information and standings are all on the page.