WHEELING - The Oglebay Junior Tennis Classic has been a big event for tennis enthusiasts for a number of years and this summer's field should get them just as excited.
With nearly 100 players, the tournament features a mixture of local players, as well those from the surrounding states and 12 players from Spain.
The event, which Oglebay tennis and tournament director Marc White refers to as ''Wimbledon in the Woods,'' begins tonight and Thursday with training sessions for the players that he believes will help them in the coming days.
''It's called Skills and Drills and it's designed to prepare the players for the tournament,'' White said. ''The training is different than it was two months or two weeks ago. We have specially designed skills and drills (today) and Thursday to help them have a successful tournament.''
The clinic is at 6 p.m. today. It also runs weekly, as does the advanced training for high school players held on Thursday nights.
Once those sessions end, the real fun begins as the tournament kicks off at 9 a.m. Friday morning.
The brackets are divided into boys' and girls' 18, 16, 14, and 12 Singles and boys' and girls' 18 and 14 Doubles.
Thirteen local players will take the court, highlighted by two-time OVAC champion Jackie McDermott.
McDermott, a rising junior at Linsly, will compete at 16 Singles and 18 Doubles with Marikate Reese of Pittsburgh. Other locals in the girls' field are John Marshall's Olivia Blazer (18S) and Alaina Pauley (16S), Wheeling Park's McKenzie Rodgers (16S) and Anika Ekanem of New Martinsville (14S)
Weirton Madonna all-stater Nick Conforti will look to win in the 18 Singles and at 18 Doubles with his brother, Matt. Matt will compete in 16 Singles.
John Marshall's Hayden Blazer (16S), Brooke's Jackson Carey (16S), and Wheeling Central's Jonathon Haley (16S) will also be in action.
Local middle school players include Zachary Ziolkowski of Wheeling (14S), Austin Douglass of St. Clairsville (14S), and Joshua Ekanem of New Martinsville (12S).
''Jackie is a great tennis player, great student, and is really leading the way for our local players here to perform well,'' White said. ''We are really happy that Jackie and all the other OVAC players are playing here.
''When the OVACs are over, tennis isn't over. This is really the height of tennis season. It's a special time and we are celebrating it.
''The serious high school tennis players, this is where really you test your skills.''