CHARLOTTE, NC (WBTV) - Charlotte’s 2nd Annual Amateur Tennis Tournament is set to begin Sept. 11-13.
Charlotte City Council member Malcolm Graham, the tournament’s director, said the planning committee went back and forth discussing if the tournament should go on in the midst of a pandemic.
The decision was made to proceed with restrictions. The decision was welcomed news for participants.
“There was pent up demand from the tennis players in Charlotte to play,” Graham said. “Most of the tournaments in April, May, June and July were canceled because of COVID-19.”
Graham said, so far, more than 80 players have registered.
Some are coming from as far away as Connecticut.
Atrium Health is a sponsor and officials say out-of-town players will be expected to follow a protocol before participating.
“The way you mitigate the risk is doing some questioning,” Atrium Health Dr. David Calloway said. “Asking for symptoms and doing temperature checks.”
Because of the pandemic, there will be changes to the tournament.
Right now, no spectators will be allowed on the courts at the beginning of the tournament. All tournament registration was done online to limit human contact and there will extra rules emphasized on the courts to promote safety.
“We are doing physical distancing during the event,” Calloway said. “We are making sure people are wearing masks and hand-washing but mostly common sense ways to address the core issue...If the community comes together and wear masks and does smart things and wear masks - we can control COVID.”
Graham said this tournament is more than just tennis games, it is an event that brings awareness to what his sister believed in.
Graham’s sister, Cynthia Hurd, was one of the victims of the Mother Emanuel AME Church shooting in Charleston, South Carolina. The proceeds of the tournament benefit the Cynthia Hurd Foundation.
Hurd was a librarian and reading was important to her.
“We have been working hard for the last four years in terms of spreading the word about literacy,” Graham said. “And the importance of reading - also civic engagement.”
During tournament week, there will be a town hall meeting entitled “Race, Politics and the 2020 Election.”
In addition to civic engagement, this tournament will also spotlight the need for more clay courts in Charlotte.
Clay courts are good for older people so they can still play tennis and get the exercise they need.
“Charlotte is one of the largest cities in the country that does not have public clay courts,” Graham said. “We’re still working with Mecklenburg County to address that issue, but we are slowly but surely getting there.”
It is not too late to register to play. For more information click here.