Lorrigan Puls, Reporter
Alex Hodges, Editor
The Rome Tennis Center (RTC) at Berry College reported a successful two years of business since its opening in July 2016.
The (RTC) has provided many benefits to the Rome community. It brought business to hotels, restaurants and stores which provided one third of the economic impact of Rome, according to Executive Director Thomas Daglis.
Daglis hoped the center would have more support from the Rome community through participation. The RTC offers opportunities for community partners, schools and individuals court use for low costs.
“This was built as a tournament site, but also as an amenity for the community,” Daglis said. “We want Romans to feel like this is their tennis center.”
According to Daglis, the $11.4 million center closed its first two years of operation by almost breaking even. The upkeep of the facility was expensive which made it hard to earn a profit.
The 30-acre facility offers 60 outdoor courts for community, tournament, and school use. The center provided a space for more than 30 tournaments each year since it opened. The center met the three-year projection for tournaments in its first three months, a success according to Daglis.
The RTC partnered with several organizations to increase activity and provide tennis help to individuals 5 years old and up.
Daglis and his team gave back to the community by opening free clinics for school children. They offered help to children from the Boys & Girls Club, local elementary schools, and Floyd County sports camps.
The center also offered local high school students the opportunity to play on its courts. High school tennis teams could hold seven home matches at the center for $100. The center waved the fee for any team that had five players volunteer for five hours each. This price or deal made it affordable for all schools to host matches on quality courts.
Adults can learn how to play tennis at the center through the Green Ball Tennis League. This program instructed adults on tennis basics for six weeks at no cost except for a $5 charge for every missed session.
Individuals who already knew how to play tennis were not left behind. The center offered a $60 Friends Pass that granted unlimited play throughout the year, a complimentary t-shirt and pro shop discounts. The club-style facility provided a community center to learn and play tennis for all ages.
Berry students also benefited from the center with free court use and the Professional Tennis Management program. The student work experience offered a United States Tennis Association certification and opportunities for students to gain an understanding of the field.
Berry took a behind-the-scenes approach to the program and let the tennis center handle the certification process. Visiting Assistant Professor of Sports Administration Mark Howard viewed the program as an extension of the center, not Berry.
“We advertise it and try to get people interested in it, but there is not a connection with an academic department,” Howard said.
The RTC expressed hope for more student involvement in the program that helps develop professional experience.
Student worker Andrea Golliher-Strange has loved her first year and a half at the center. She worked with around six other Berry students and valued the center’s contribution to the community.
One of her favorite events was the wheelchair tournament held in March. Individuals traveled internationally to compete. It was an example of the center’s positive impact and something she will never forget.
“The wheelchair tournament was a big deal,” Golliher-Strange said.
Daglis hopes for even more activity in the future. The opening of six indoor courts will bring more traffic to the center. Daglis hopes to bid on indoor tournaments to keep business up throughout the year. Construction will begin soon to finish for the April 2020 Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC) championship.