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Inaugural Grizzly Open tennis tourney at GGC this weekend

Georgia Gwinnett College sophomore Erik Moberg and the Grizzly tennis teams host their first ever invitational this weekend. (Photo: Bill Kallenberg)

Georgia Gwinnett College sophomore Erik Moberg and the Grizzly tennis teams host their first ever invitational this weekend. (Photo: Bill Kallenberg)

Chase Hodges wasn’t sure how the field would shake out for the inaugural Grizzly Open, since start-up events are sometimes slow to get going.

Not this one, though.

The Georgia Gwinnett College tennis coach and his teams will host a substantial field this week for their inaugural home tournament, which will feature 16 teams and representatives from NCAA Divisions I, II and III, NAIA and NJCAA. Play begins Friday and runs through Sunday at the Grizzlies’ tennis facility on Collins Hill Road.

“It’s a great start for us,” Hodges said. “When I was putting it together, I didn’t know what to expect with it, what kind of feedback we’d get. I didn’t know what kind of field we’d have for a first-year event. It’s something we can really grow every year and potentially have really big numbers in the future.

“I think a lot of (the interest) is the fact that our team is starting to pick up a little more name recognition. People know about the caliber of players we have here. People want to get good experience and see how they stack up.”

Most teams, GGC included, will wrap up their fall season at this week’s tourney, which is free to the public.

Erik Moberg, a sophomore from Sweden, has the program’s signature win to this point, a victory over Auburn-Montgomery’s Nikko Pinones-Haltenhoff, the No. 1-ranked player in the country. Bruno Tiberti, a senior from Argentina who transferred from Oklahoma Christian, also has played well for the men’s team during the fall season.

They will be joined in the home tourney by GGC men’s players Hernan Hatem and Matias Hatem, both from Argentina, Tony Kostadinov (from Bulgaria) and Evgeny Silitski (from Belarus).

GGC will be represented in the women’s draw by Paloma Cortina (Spain), Rocio Fernandez (Argentina), Luma Schwab (Switzerland) and Victoria Svensson (Sweden).

Alabama State, Austin Peay, Berry, Brenau, Dalton State, Georgia Southwestern, Itawamba CC, Kennesaw State, Palm Beach Atlantic, Point, Presbyterian, Reinhardt, Tennessee-Chattanooga, Tennessee Tech and West Georgia will send teams to the tourney.

“This is the last fall event for most of these teams,” Hodges said. “Our fall season wraps up this weekend and we hit it back hard in January when classes start. This is just a nice finish to the fall season. … In the spring, the goal is pretty much the same for both our (men’s and women’s) programs, to compete for national championships. We’ve got some players who can put us in that position.”

Players will be divided into A, B and C tiers in men’s singles, and A and B tiers in women’s singles. A consolation bracket guarantees each player two matches. Singles matches will be best two of three sets, with a 10-point tiebreaker deciding third sets until the semifinal round, when the entire match is played out. All doubles matches are eight-game pro sets.

Tennis begins Friday at 6 p.m., then resumes at 8 a.m. on both Saturday and Sunday.

TENNIS

What: Grizzly Open

When: Friday-Sunday, play begins at 6 p.m. Friday and at 8 a.m. Saturday and Sunday

Where: Georgia Gwinnett College Tennis Facility

Admission: Free