The Heavens opened up right at match time sending players and spectators seeking shelter. But this year, with the tournament being held in downtown Atlanta at Atlantic Station, finding ways to keep dry while still having fun wasn’t hard to do.
Tennis spectators, Maggie Mullins and Naomi Grace, hopped into The Cadillac Lounge located on 19th Street just across from stadium court to escape the downpour. “We’re grabbing something to eat,” said nine year old Mullis, who picked up a racquet in April of 2011 after the encouragement of her friend, seven year old, Naomi Grace. “She (Grace) just wanted someone to do it with so I decided to do it.”
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Mullins is happy with her decision to hit the courts. “It’s really cool, I love it,” she says about her tennis game. She has plans to enroll in Junior Team Tennis in the future.
Grace and Mullins attended a private clinic opened to corporate sponsors. During the clinic, the girls collected tennis player autographs. Grace’s father, Brandon Bowling, Southeast Account Rep. for Hertz Entertainment Services, said Hertz sponsored the event due to the amount of exposure for the company.
And it wasn'tt just food that awaited the fans during rain delays and breaks from the matches. There was plenty to do in Atlantic Station.
“It’s raining now and there’s a movie theater here,” says Chris Slate who is on the board of directors for USTA Georgia. “There are unbelievable sales going on. There are candy stores, toy stores. You can get a pedicure during the rain delay!”
Slate, who has never been to Atlantic Station before the tournament, plans on returning. "I’ve never been to a tennis venue like this before in my whole life. It’s incredible.”
Slate's not the only one singing the venue's praises. Fans like Anthony Sullins thinks it's a wonderful area to host a tennis tournament. “This is the best venue because of the shops,” says Sullins whose 14 yr old son, Brandon, is a ball boy at the tournament. Sullins and his wife stepped into California Pizza Kitchen for dinner during Wednesday’s five hour rain delay.
Sullins, who played high school tennis, jumped back on the courts after moving to Atlanta approximately eight years ago. “Everybody plays tennis in Atlanta,” Sullins says.
Sullins is no stranger to pro event spectatorship. “Atlantic Station is the best venue,” he says. “You can’t beat it. The parking’s easy and it’s right off the interstate.”
Author’s Note: USTA is offering new USTA members a free 1-year 10 and Under membership for all juniors 10 and under.
"I think it’s great," says Bowling, speaking of 10 and under tennis. Bowling's daughter chose tennis when she wanted to learn an outside sport rather than be inside watching TV all day.