In recent years, as Rome has added men’s and women’s professional tournaments to the long-standing mix of USTA league and junior, intercollegiate, and interscholastic tournaments, players have come from around the world.
Leaders of the tennis community came together in 2008 and thought it would be a good idea to build a new complex that would be large enough to handle the growing number of tournaments that were coming to Rome.
An economic impact study by Dr. Jeffrey Humphreys of the Selig Center for Economic Growth at the University of Georgia was used to try to attract some state assistance with the center’s financing. Ultimately, leaders put the facility in a 2013 Special-Purpose Sales Tax package that local voters passed. The center opened in the fall of 2016. A few years later, the city, noting the need for indoor courts to accompany bidding on many tournaments, agreed to sell bonds to construct the six-court indoor complex, which was completed in time for the 2021 Atlantic Coast Conference tournament.
The ACC men’s and women’s tournaments were held in Rome in 2021 and 2022.
Putting the SPLOST and bond funds, the capital investments in the tennis center totaled close to $16 million. On the other hand, the local Convention and Visitors Bureau has been able to track more than $35 million in direct economic impact that has resulted from the growing number of events at the center.
United States Tennis Association Junior tournaments, along with various regional and state-sanctioned adult league events, are conducted almost monthly at the center.
In addition to the ACC tournament, several Intercollegiate Tennis Association Fall championships for NCAA Division II and III, NAIA, and National Junior College competitors have been held at the Rome Tennis Center.
The United States Tennis Association Girls 14 & Under championships have been played in Rome for many years. The event, which concluded in August, brought young ladies from more than 35 states to Rome over a nine-day period.
You never know who you might see at the 14&U event. Last year, former heavyweight boxing champ Mike Tyson was here to watch his daughter Milan play. This year it was Michael Chang, the youngest man ever to win a Grand Slam event (the French Open at age 17), who was in Rome to watch his daughter, Lani.
Chang said he wished there were some complexes like the Rome Tennis Center near his home in Mission Viejo, California. “This is a great facility,” Chang said. The staff here, obviously their experience shows… they did a phenomenal job.”
The Rome tennis center is also a great venue for those who are fans of tennis in general. It has hosted two Association of Tennis Professionals Challenger tournaments for men.
The first was won by Yibing Wu, a young Chinese professional who is ranked 87th in the world. He beat defending NCAA champion Ben Shelton who turned pro right after that tournament and is ranked number 40.
Earlier this year, Australian Jordan Thompson won the second tournament, currently number 55, over California teen sensation Alex Michelsen who is already in the top 150.
Three women’s tournaments have been played in Rome, won by Spaniard Irene Burillo Escorihuela, German Tatiana Maria, who went on to reach the Wimbledon semi-finals last year, and Peyton Stearns, the defending NCAA champion out of the University of Texas who has turned pro.
International Tennis Federation Wheelchair tournaments have brought most of the top wheelchair players from around the globe to Rome, including Shingo Kunieda of Japan, Alfie Hewett of Great Britain, and Diede de Groot and Aniek van Koot of The Netherlands.