Tennis returned to Waco this fall via the ITA Tour: Fall Circuit by UTR and with the help of Waco Regional Tennis & Fitness. WRFT’s Director of Tennis Britt Coleman joined over 30 other hosts to offer over 150 tournaments across the nation to collegiate, professional, and junior players during a time when normal play opportunities were limited.
We talked with Britt Coleman about WRFT’s motivation for hosting, his experience, and how the community reacted. WRFT will be hosting an ITA Tour: Winter Circuit by UTR tournament in Week 3. Registration for the tournament remains open.
ITA | You hosted two ITA Tour: Fall Circuit by UTR tournaments and will be hosting a tournament for the Winter Circuit as well. What drove you to be a host site so many times?
Waco Regional strongly supports Baylor Men’s Tennis, and with so many schools cancelling on-campus competitions, we felt like we could help both the Baylor team and other collegiate players to get some significant match play by providing an alternate venue during the Fall and Winter.
ITA | How did you start preparing to host the tournaments? What is it like to host the tournaments?
We contacted the ITA to offer our services, then made sure we could comply with all of the local Covid Protocols. In addition, the layout of WRTF lends itself extremely well to social distancing measures and safety concerns. And, as we were one of the early adopters of the UTR platform, our 4 years of experience running UTR tournaments, the actual hosting wasn’t that big a deal.
ITA | Do you have numbers on how many student-athletes passed through your facility for the tournaments?
We’ve only had about 50 student-athletes participate in the two tournaments thus far, but with added participation from area players who were anxious to get back into competition, the total number of players for the Fall Circuit was around 90. FYI, we also hosted an ITA Regional that saw another 64 players competing.
ITA | What has been the feedback from the local community/players/parents?
The local tennis community was extremely excited to see such high-level competition in the area. The fact that there is so much support for Baylor tennis made the opportunity to see the players in action that much more enjoyable. With the UTR Level-based play creating such close matches, both players and spectators seemed to relish the return to the courts.
Still, it would be nice if the public appreciated and supported the talent at these events a bit more. One of the things to remember about the level of play you may one day see some of these players on the Pro Circuit. In fact, several of the participants have already achieved a certain level of success in pro events. Especially in these times of reduced competitions, everyone should recognize the significance of these ITA events and realize that perhaps this is as close to “normal” as highly competitive tennis may get for a while.
ITA | It’s such an unprecedented time, did these tournaments offer a sense of normalcy?
There was great sense of pride in knowing that we helped not only our local student athletes, but the tennis community at large get back achieve a certain sense of normalcy and a renewed desire to get back on the court and grow the sport, even in these troubled times.