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Aiken Readying For Two State Championships

May 15, 2014 08:52 AM

The NCAA has March Madness. Augusta has The Masters.

This month, the City of Aiken will have some championships of its own to show off.

Aiken will host two USTA South Carolina state league championships during the next two weekends. The events are expected to bring more than 1,500 people to town from all over South Carolina.

With that many people visiting, every sector of Aiken will benefit from the USTA SC championships, said Mark Calvert, tennis supervisor for the City of Aiken.

Downtown shops will see more foot traffic. Aiken’s hotels will have more filled beds. And the city’s restaurants will have fewer empty chairs.

“It’s going to affect everybody,” Calvert said.

Aiken will host the USTA SC Adult 40 and Over State League Championships, scheduled for Saturday through Monday. USTA SC is expecting 86 teams and about 900 people to play in those championships. Dozens of fans, including spouses and family members, also are expected to attend.

Aiken also will host the USTA SC 18 and Over State League Championships, for rating levels 4.0 to 5.0, on May 24-26. About 45 teams and nearly 500 players are expected for those championships.

(The National Tennis Rating Program rates players on a 1 to 7 scale, with “1” ratings given to people new to tennis and “7” ratings reserved for world-class players who compete in international tournaments.)

In all, 14 state league championships will be won during the two weekends.

This will be the fifth consecutive year Calvert, his staff and other nearby tennis facilities have hosted a USTA SC state league championship. (The two state championships will be held at seven facilities, including one in North Augusta.)

USTA SC keeps returning to Aiken because of how well Calvert and his staff run the championships, said Mary Goins, USTA SC director of leagues.

Calvert and his staff also work extra to make sure all are pleased.

For instance, in between matches, he and the crew at the H. Odell Weeks Tennis Center sweep the clay courts and brush the lines. That doesn’t happen at every state championship.DSC_0962
















Mark Calvert, in the red, and his staff work extra hard last October to make sure a USTA SC State League Championship went well in Aiken. (USTA SC photo)

“They treat us like kings and queens,” Goins said.

Players enjoy the Aiken experience as well.

Darren Stack and his team from the Grand Strand Tennis League played in the USTA SC 18 and Over Championships that were in Aiken last year.

His team enjoyed the city’s downtown and the many local shops and restaurants Aiken offers, including the Aiken Brewing Company.

“We did find some fun places to go to, some quaint places to enjoy while we were there,” Stack said.

He and his team plan to return to Aiken this month as well. They have again advanced to state in the 18 and Over division, level 4.0.

Teams advance to state by playing in local leagues all over South Carolina. In 2013, local leagues received more than 52,000 registrations.

The public is welcome to attend both championships; admission is free.

Championship schedule:

Play begins Saturday morning and concludes Monday afternoon. All finals matches will be held at the H. Odell Weeks Tennis Center. Click here for a detailed schedule.

Organizations and facilities helping host the USTA SC championships: H. Odell Weeks Tennis Center, which will host the championship matches; Woodside Plantation Country Club; The Reserve Club at Woodside Plantation; USC Aiken; Riverview Park; Fermata Club; and Houndslake Country Club.