The USTA National Open boys’ and girls’ 12-and-under tennis tournaments return to Chattanooga this weekend, possibly for the last time.
Not only does the event, which begins today at the Champions Club, move to Yale University’s tennis facility next year, but this year’s tournaments have had their draws cut from 64 players to 32.
Tournament organizer Eddie Baker said the event has gone from a singles draw of 64 players competing over five days to half the field over three.
There are four boys’ and girls’ National Opens taking place simultaneously in different regions of the country. The event at the Champions Club is the only one east of the Mississippi River.
The National Open has been played at the Champions Club each summer since the 26-court facility opened in December 2000.
Drew Hawkins and Lauren Carelli of Chattanooga are among the 32 girls. Luke Plaisted of Hixson is the only local player in the boys’ draw.
Plaisted faces Sami Soufi of Sandy Springs, Ga., at 8 this morning. Hawkins plays Sophia Suri of Kennesaw at 9, and Carelli takes on Tia Mukherjee of Bloomfield Hills, Mich., at 10:30.
Every player in the singles draws will play at least two matches today.
John Frierson is in his fifth year at the Times Free Press and fifth year covering University of Tennessee at Chattanooga athletics. The bulk of his time is spent covering Mocs football, but he also writes about women’s basketball and the big-picture issues and news involving the athletic department. A native of Athens, Ga., John grew up a few hundred yards from the University of Georgia campus. Instead of becoming a Bulldog he attended Ole ...