WHEELING - The sound of tennis rackets cracking filled the air as the Oglebay Junior Tennis Classic continued on Saturday.
"There's been a lot of great competition and a lot of great tennis,'' Tournament Director Marc White said. "We have a very well put together team and a beautiful facility here.''
The three-day tournament, which concludes today, features not only several local players, but also players from all around the region and Spain.
Olivia Blazer is one of the many local players competing at this weekend’s Oglebay Junior Tennis Classic. The event concludes today.
Photo by Anthony Viola
"About four years ago, a friend of mine who coaches in Spain began to bring some players over with him to the tournament,'' White said. "Now, some come over here for two or three weeks during the summer time.''
White says one of the reasons the Spanish players enjoy the event is because of the type of courts that Oglebay offers.
"We train on Har-Tru clay courts,'' White said. ''They help develop good footwork and helps players learn different spins on the ball. The kids also learn different tactics and must come up with a game plan before playing. Our local kids get a world class training facility in their own backyard.''
John Marshall's Hayden and Olivia Blazer say they enjoy all the different types of competition the tournament has to offer.
"It's good to play people from all over,'' Hayden explains, "it helps broaden your horizons. I've been coming here for five years now and I always play someone new.''
"It's cool to meet other kids,'' agreed Olivia. "I got to play one of the Spanish kids last year. There's a lot of tough competition.''
Hayden competed as the fourth seed in the Boys' 16 singles, a group White says deserves a lot of credit.
"I'm very proud of those boys. They had a bunch of stiff competition and they performed well.''
The group of 32 featured six local players, the most of any age group.
Olivia, on the other hand, was one of only three players in Girls' 18 singles.
"It's a learning experience for players to see other players techniques,'' White said. "Playing in tournaments like this also helps builds a players confidence.''
Neil Leroy, a USTA referee, says that the Junior Classic is one of the best tournaments he sees every year.
"I go to 25 different tournaments a year and this is one of my favorites,'' Leroy said.
"The setting is great and the kids are stunningly well behaved.''
"An event like this can't go without good help, and I'd like to thank everyone who participated,'' White said.
"We want to make this a lasting memories for these kids.''