CHARLOTTE, NC (WBTV) - Malcolm Graham is adding tennis tournament director to his title. His foundation - Cynthia Graham Hurd Foundation - named after his sister - is sponsoring Charlotte's Premier Amateur Tennis Championship. It takes place August 16-18.
On Tuesday, Graham held media day at Marion Diehl Recreation Center to introduce partners and to make an announcement he hopes will attract more people to sign up.
“An anonymous donor has contributed $2500 to go toward cash money for the winners,” Graham said, “So there will be a cash purse for the open division.”
Some tennis players were also present. They say they are excited the tournament is in Charlotte and believe the tournament and the Queen City is a good fit.
“It’s a sense of community, and a sense of family,” player Alexis Robinson said.
Robinson says she will sign up to play in the tournament. As word is spreading about the tournament there is a light shining on the conditions of some of the courts in Mecklenburg County. Graham says he wants people to know about 65 percent of people in Mecklenburg County play tennis in private facilities and about 35 percent play on public courts. Graham thinks that should be the other way around.
“We got to get the word out and let people know we have these courts,” Mecklenburg County Park and Recreation Department Director W. Lee Jones said. “Secondly, we have to make sure they are really good condition and available.”
Jones says his department has a plan to address the issues some tennis courts face. His department is working on a 9-12 assessment.
“We are bringing them up,” Jones said. “We’ve got the staff. We’ve got the funding and we have the equipment now to be able to do that, but it’s not going to happen overnight.”
The Director believes tennis can open opportunities for people and contribute to a healthy lifestyle.
“People are just playing basketball and things along those lines," Jones said, "but to open up to something they can play for a long period of time well into the winter of their lives - gives a great opportunity.”
The Charlotte Tennis Association (CTA) says there are tennis enthusiasts in Charlotte. The Association says there are about 12,000 adults who have registered with the association.
“This is something that has been long overdue for our community.” Charlotte Tennis Association Executive Director Carla O’Connor said.
O’Connor believes this tournament is a perfect fit for Charlotte. Organizers say there is something for everybody. There will be tennis classes for kids and tennis play for the disabled. CTA believes tennis is a community sport.
“When you ask players why they play the sport, one of the first things they say is the social interaction - particularly in this setting. We have the ability to bring players from throughout the community,” O’Connor said.
For more information about the Charlotte Amateur Tennis Championship, you can visit cghfoundation.org/events, or contact Tournament Director Malcolm Graham at (704) 576-4568.