The BB&T Atlanta Open is a small but popular US Open series tournament that begins at the end of July. This past year, former Georgia bulldog John Isner won the singles title for the third straight year, while the Bryan brothers took the doubles title. The main draw provides great tennis in itself, but it is the qualifying rounds that make the Atlanta Open so unique. The tournament offers qualifying wild cards to top collegiate singles and doubles players in and around Georgia. Former tournament director Bob Bryant first instituted the program a few years ago saying, “we are excited to add a local college connection to the BB&T Atlanta Open.”
The Wild Card Challenge Open allows local junior and college students to compete for a spot within the qualifying draw. Many of these players are considering turning pro after their college career, and this gives them a taste of the caliber of tennis that is found at the next level on the ITF and professional tours. Even if they are not seeking a professional tennis career, top American players in the Georgia area are not about to miss out on a chance like this. Who would? The Challenge Open pulls a larger local crowd to the tournament, especially the qualifying rounds, as Georgian university tennis families, friends, and fans make it out to watch one of their own step onto a bigger tennis stage.
The University of Georgia and Georgia Tech are two of the main sources of players for this program, and these two rival schools have even put aside their school alliances to form strong doubles teams. The college qualifiers may not advance too far into the draw, as they are encountering better tennis and athleticism as well as newfound nerves that a professional tournament, but Georgia Tech coach Kenny Thorne says, “We’re pleased to be a part of the BB&T Atlanta Open as it brings together Georgia-based players for a chance to test themselves against world-ranked pros.” It is a great way for college players to gain experience and for local tennis fans to connect even more to the professional tournament.