Our local residents have probably gotten a lot more aware of and involved in tennis since the Palmetto Tennis Center (PTC) opened on Theatre Drive in 2003, but this challenging sport has a long and fascinating history going back to 12th century France (Google it sometime!). Today, nearly everyone knows about the major events such as Wimbledon and the US Open, and players such as the Williams sisters, Anna Kournikova and Maria Sharapova have become celebrities.
The Palmetto Pro Open, taking place May 21-29 at PTC, is a US Tennis Association Pro Circuit event that might just give you the chance to say you saw a future celebrity competing “back in the day.” Since the inaugural event in 2007, a number of participants have gone on to bigger and better things. Most notably, Palmetto Pro Open champ Beatrice Capra has gone on to compete in the US Open, where she faced the mighty Sharapova in the third round. Another player, Alison Riske, has followed a similar career trajectory. Other players have competed at Wimbledon, which in the tennis world, is the equivalent of the Master’s in golf, Daytona in NASCAR, the World Series in baseball, the Super Bowl…well, you get it!
Even if you’ve never picked up a racquet in your life, there is still fun to be had on Super Saturday, May 21, which is the kickoff celebration for the tournament. From 11 a.m. until 1 p.m., there will be prize drawings, demos, a bounce house and more, including free hot dogs and drinks for the first 200 participants, with representatives from the City Fire and Police Departments. There will also be free lessons available during this event, so if you’ve always wanted to learn, bring your racquet and shoes. Proper footgear is required, so please don’t come out in a pair of Rainbows or Vans. There will be a limited number of racquets available for use if you don’t own one yet…and if you get hooked, our full-service Pro Shop can hook you up!
I keep promising (or is it threatening?) the Tennis Center staff that one of these days, I am going to show up for a lesson, since I gave up tennis in college and have not picked up a racquet since. And I still have fond memories of being glued to the television, watching the late Vitas Gerulaitis, the incomparable Billie Jean King, Chris Evert, Ilie Nastase and the breathtaking Bjorn Borg, still considered one of the greatest players in history. You see, tennis is just as much fun to watch as it is to participate, so this is a great chance to come and check it out!
For scheduling information, including featured daily matches, please visit the Palmetto Tennis Center website here. Admission for spectators is free! To reach the PTC by phone, call (803) 774-3969.
Come on out, have a great time, and catch a rising star!