HUNTSVILLE, Ala. (WHNT) – This weekend, the top 224 female tennis players ages 16 and under from across the country will be at the Athletic Club Alabama in Huntsville for the 2022 UTSA U16 Girls Clay Court Nationals.
This is the third time the event is being held here in Huntsville and the second year in a row after they had to pause in 2020 due to the pandemic.
This is a big event for the city as it brings in a ton of great young talent to help grow the sport, as well as a big economic boost. Organizers say they estimate an economic impact of $887,000 from this year’s tournament.
“We were fortunate enough to grab this event a couple of years ago. Growing up in the sport and to be able to participate in things like this and then being able to host it, it’s really special for us here at the club. To be able to have a national event where you’re giving somebody an individual national championship here in our town is special. They win a gold ball which is something that tennis has done for years,” tournament director Eddie Jacques said.
Only two Alabama natives made the field this year and none from North Alabama. Regardless, the weeklong tournament gives the community a chance to see some up-and-comers from all over that we might see on the big stage someday.
“Some of the younger ones that are the best maybe 13, 14-year-old girls, will be some of the ones to kind of be looking for to seeing them and see how they kind of advance and maybe win the title. The first year we hosted we had a girl that we’ll probably see on tv here coming up pretty soon so these girls aren’t going to the U.S. Open this year but we might have a younger one down the road follow up and make the U.S. Open or Wimbledon,” Jacques added.
This year’s tournament begins Sunday at 8 a.m. and runs through July 17.