Overland Park, Kan. -- Blizzard warnings across the Kansas City metro area couldn't stop a major tennis tournament from taking place in Overland Park.
The U.S. Tennis Association held its U-18 boys tennis championships at the Overland Park Racquet Club. 64 athletes from all across the nation competed in the four-day tournament which began Friday and will end on Monday with championship matches beginning 9 a.m. that morning.
"This is just the second year of the event. The U.S. Tennis Association, on a national level, had this event for many years till 1999 and then discontinued it and then restarted it last year," Tournament Director Scott Hanover said. "Our club was just really fortunate here in Overland Park to bid on it. And out of all the indoor clubs in the country, to be the ones to get actually get to host."
Scott also says players come from as far as Hawaii and the Caribbean to take part in the event. However, top-shelf high school tennis players from the Kansas City metro also compete at a high level. Shawnee Mission Northwest senior Nam Pham played in a singles consolation bracket match early Sunday morning. He's considered the top-ranked player in Kansas. Blue Valley West senior tennis star Bruno Serra also took part in singles and doubles matches in the tournament.
The players enjoy having the chance to play other great competition in order to continue perfecting their craft prior to playing tennis collegiately. However, many say the tournament in Overland Park is quite a challenge.
"It's tough definitely. There's no easy match this year," 18-year-old Little Rock native Wesley Barnett said. "Every time you can get a win, it's always a big deal. And plus, it's bonus points to be here for me."
Overland Park Racquet Club is considered one of the best indoor tennis facilities in the nation. Barnett plays on various surfaces such as grass, hard top and clay. But, he spoke about the challenge playing on the Overland Park Racquet Club indoor courts during the tournament.
"[I've got to] just get used to the surface. These courts here are really fast. So, it's kind of, it isn't easy to prepare for something like this," Barnett said. [I've got to] take a couple good wins out, feel better about myself and just try to do the best I can without exceeding my limits."
The second year of the tournament seems to be more competitive. And, that's something that makes tournament organizers incredibly pleased.
"I think probably to me, the most impressive thing is just, this year, how high the level of talent really is. And, we've had many more competitive matches this year," Hanover said. "Now that it's into it's second year, the level of play has increased. The level of closeness of the players has increased. We've had more matches that have lasted longer and have been more exciting to watch.