Playing host to state-level tennis tournaments is nothing new for the Lake Norman Tennis Association.

But the association's management believe they outdid themselves with the latest state tournament the organization hosted.

The U.S. Tennis Association recently held its 2015 North Carolina Junior Team Tennis championships in the Lake Norman region July 17-19, drawing nearly 700 players and more than seven dozen teams.

"It was a huge success," said Amy Brandon, the Lake Norman Tennis Association's tournament coordinator for the Junior Team Tennis championships. "It was the biggest one the state has ever had as far as the number of participants, from all over the state. It was very successful."

Most of the matches during the Junior Team Tennis tournament were held at Davidson's River Run Tennis Club, using both the facility's outdoor and indoor courts. Other courts throughout the Lake Norman area - Cornelius' Hough High and Jetton Park, and Hopewell High, Holbrook Park and North Mecklenburg Park in Huntersville - were also used.

The Lake Norman Tennis Association has hosted U.S. Tennis Association state adult championship tournaments the past three years http://texastennisopen.com and has received awards from the USTA for its work. In 2013, the group was named the state's member organization of the year, and in 2014 received the USTA Southern Region's team tennis event of the year award for its work organizing the North Carolina 40-over adult league state championships.

But organizing the Junior Team Tennis state championships provided its own challenges, according to Brandon.

"One of the things was with the younger kids - the 8-unders and 10-unders," Brandon said. "Obviously, with the younger kids, they use smaller courts. That's why we used the courts over at Jetton Park and North Mecklenburg Park.

"The other thing is that when the adult tournaments come to town, it's just the players coming. With the kids, they all bring their families - their parents, their grandparents, their aunts, their uncles - so you're talking a lot of people. We were having to accommodate a lot of families."

That almost proved troublesome for both the Lake Norman Tennis Association and River Run, which hosted the tournament's player party - an event that drew more than 900 people, nearly twice the expected number.

"That caught us by surprise," Brandon said. "Going by what the USTA told us, we had anticipated about 450-500 people. But River Run's staff handled it beautifully. They were excited, and they're ready to do it again next year."

This year's Junior Team Tennis state championships were the first in a two-year contract with the Lake Norman Tennis Association to host the event.

Brandon said that planning for next year's tournament - scheduled for July 15-18, 2016 - began almost as soon as the 2015 tournament ended.

"We're going to have a meeting about that soon with USTA North Carolina (officials)," Brandon said. "Some of the things we want to do is utilize more hotel blocks, for one, and let the area businesses know in advance. They're all going to have a big increase in business, because all those families are going to want to go out to dinner, they're going to buy things like water and Gatorade by the case, things like that.

"As far as the tournament itself, we're looking at finding more tennis court facilities. We ended up using 47 courts. We also need a better rain plan, because it rained on us two days. Having more indoor court facilities would be fantastic."

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