WILMINGTON — Tennis venues across the area will play host to the 2016 United States Tennis Association (USTA) North Carolina Combo Tennis Championships during a two weekend span that begins in the Port City this weekend, Thursday, Nov. 3 through Sunday, Nov. 6.
The Greater Wilmington Tennis Association (GWTA) is expected to welcome over 2,600 players from across state to compete at this event as winners will represent their local city tennis association for a chance to qualify for the southern regional tournament in Alabama in March 2017.
“The GWTA is a non-profit organization that promotes healthful recreation and grows the game of tennis by facilitating delivery of programs offered by existing organizations,” said Tournament Director, Paula Sneeden. “We also are always looking for new opportunities for novice and junior tennis players in our area.”
The tournament runs over two weekends, with play wrapping up Nov. 10-13. The USTA uses the National Tennis Rating Program (NTRP) to determine levels of competition for USTA League. The scale begins at 1.5, for players with limited experience and ability, through 9.5, which includes players with intensive training for national tournaments or top level collegiate competition.
Teams in the 5.0, 6.5, and 8.5 levels are set to compete during the opening weekend of play, while 5.5, 7.5, and 9.5 level players square off the second weekend. Men’s and Women’s play will also be divided based on age, 18’s, 40’s, 55’s and 65’s.
Of the 1,300 players expected to participate each weekend, approximately 400 are from the Wilmington and Oak Island/Southport area. The Wilmington area has one of the highest USTA memberships of any city in the state of North Carolina.
“Wilmington teams are highly respected among statewide opponents,” Sneeden added. “We often send five or more teams to the sectional championships in Alabama, which is the next level for the state champions.”
The tournament will be played at the following venues: Althea Gibson Tennis Center, Ogden Park, Ashley High School, UNC-Wilmington, Topsail Middle School, Laney High School, Legion Stadium, Cape Fear Country Club, Echo Farms, Holly Tree Racquet Club, Pine Valley Country Club, Porter’s Neck Country Club and St. James Plantation.
All visiting teams will be staying overnight for at least three nights. They will be staying in local hotels or renting condos/beach homes. According to the GWTA, the economic impact for the total tournament is estimated to be over $14 million.