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The USTA Women’s Professional Circuit is Coming to Sumter

May 1, 2008 03:05 PM
     The doors of the Palmetto Tennis Center (PTC) in Sumter is looking to build upon success.  Since it opened in April 2004, to an NCAA Division II College Tournament, the PTC has rapidly built a reputation as a tennis hub.  Now hosted by PTC for the fifth consecutive year, the tournament brings in over 200 college tennis players annually.  Since opening, PTC has averaged approximately 7 to 11 other tournaments from the local Sumter Tennis Association and SCISA (SC Independent Schools Association) to higher level USTA tournaments. It has been a constant aim of the tennis center since day one to keep and maintain the challenge in seeking larger events that will put the tennis center on the map. The Director of Tennis, Sam Kiser commented that “One of the main goals of the tennis center is to increase participation in tennis and host large events that will bring people into the Sumter area”.
     This strategy has definitely paid off for the tennis center, as it has recently announced that it will host a $10,000 USTA Women’s Professional Circuit tennis event called the Palmetto Pro Open.  This event raises PTC to new heights as the center embarks on hosting this professional event from May 25 through June 1.  The event will showcase some of the rising stars on the USTA circuit and will bring in players from all over the world. One such player that started on the USTA circuit was Anna Kournikova, who won titles at Rockford, IL and Midland, MI in 1996. In more recent years, the women’s pro circuit has seen Nicole Vaidisova win in Midland Michigan and Maria Sharapova win the Bank International tennis classic in 2005. These USTA pro circuit tournaments serve as a lead-up to the well known US Open at Flushing Meadows. They also provide experience for up-and-coming players who are working their way up the rankings, just like Lindsey Davenport, who is a former USTA pro circuit player.
     The Palmetto Tennis Center is only the second USTA Pro Circuit event to offer a 128 qualifying draw that will begin on Sunday, May 25. The main draw matches will begin Tuesday, May 27, and will include a 32 person draw. The director of the event and the Palmetto Tennis Center Head Professional Brian Parkkonen says, “This is an exciting time for the tennis center as we are hosting the first professional sports event in Sumter. This is not only a tennis tournament, but a community event that involves everyone”.
     The event will include other activities such as a play day for children and a “meet the players” social event.  The tennis center will showcase two feature matches per day and offer seating for these matches in the evening session. The evening matches will offer something new and exciting to the public with the goal of increasing participation and community involvement. More details of the activities will be released closer to the event.  As you can see this, event is unique for the Sumter area and will showcase not only the excellent tennis players but also the Palmetto Tennis Center.
     Also Local SC Juniors have a great opportunity to gain a Wild Card into the Main Event. They can do this by winning the girls 18’s portion of the Iris Junior Championships held at the palmetto Tennis Center May 9-11.