MACON, Georgia (41NBC/WMGT) - At least 20 of the world's Top 100 women tennis players will take the court at Stratford Academy this fall for the USTA Tennis Classic of Macon.
Mercer tennis coach Eric Hayes, who took the job just two weeks ago, also serves as the tournament director. For the past decade, he's held the tournament at Troy University, where he used to serve as head tennis coach.
"It was very important to bring the event to somewhere where if I did leave Troy, I could run the event also," says Hayes. "After meeting Jaime Kaplan and meeting the people in the community and people at Mercer, I felt this was a great place to run the event."
Stratford tennis coach Jaime Kaplan is a former pro herself.
"I played in tournaments like this for about a year and a half before I made it to the big circuit," says Kaplan. "I traveled all over the country--a lot of small towns, but a lot of big tennis communities."
The field of players won't be announced until September, but it guarantees to have some good talent.
Just last year in Troy, Portugal's rising star Michelle Larcher de Brito made an appearance. Last month at Wimbledon, she upset Maria Sharapova.
"Basically, challengers are for young players coming up in the rankings," says Hayes. "And it's also for players that have been injured."
"You never know who may have an injury soon and need to come back and rehab," says Kaplan. "It's kind of like in baseball, when you have a major league player and he does some rehab starts in maybe a AAA game or AA game."
"Andre Aggasi's done it, Maria Sharapova's done it, Serena Williams has done it," says Hayes. "A lot of top players have used these events, so it's not out of the question that we could have a player of that stature come to Macon."
$25,000 will be up for grabs when the week long tournament starts on October 6th. Hayes says courts at Wesleyan and Mercer will also be used for practice.
Aside from the tournament, Hayes says there will also be free clinics for the kids.
Stay with 41NBC and 41NBC.com for more information as we get closer to the tourney.