Big Easy Classic a Big Event for Privateer Tennis
Written for UNOPrivateers.com by Athletic Media Relations Feature Writer Tim Shannon
The New Orleans Privateers will be hosting the second annual Big Easy Classic tennis tournament this weekend at the University Tennis Center.
The Classic brings teams from all over the region to New Orleans to participate in men's and women's draws. Alabama State, Jackson State, Loyola (N.O.), Southern Mississippi, and Troy will send men's and women's players to compete with the Privateers, while Louisiana-Lafayette, Louisiana Tech, NOVA Southeastern, and Louisiana-Monroe will also send women's players.
The tournament will include three singles flights and a doubles flight and UNO head coach Burzis Kanga anticipates another good tournament.
"The first thing is that we have a great facility," said Kanga, "It gives us an opportunity to host a sanctioned Intercollegiate Tennis Association (ITA) collegiate event.
"There is a busy schedule all across the country, and we're lucky that we're one of the sites that has been able to secure an ITA sanctioned event."
The ITA is the governing body of college tennis that oversees varsity tennis at all levels of the National Collegiate Athletic Association, including Division I. The ITA sanctions about 150 tournaments across the country and helps to draw different schools to these tournaments, and players can even garner national rankings from playing in these tournaments, according to Kanga.
"It also, in a small way, has some economic input into the city as far as hotel rooms," said Kanga, "A lot of teams really enjoy coming here. It is a great destination and we try to put on a great event."
Kanga also added that the Big Easy Classic allows him the chance to see his players in action and competing at a high level to see where they stand, which has some benefits.
"I have been telling players the last few weeks that they're getting an opportunity to play a home match," said Kanga. "We will also get an opportunity to see some of the players we'll compete against in the spring."
The Big Easy Classic is one of UNO's keystone events of the fall semester for the athletics program. The exposure for the school is a big part of the increasing emphasis on re-establishing the athletic program to build a bigger and better future for Privateer Athletics.
"As a university, it puts us on the map," said Kanga. "It is fair to say that we competed well on the men's side last year by making it to the finals of the conference championships. There is not anyone else in the state who is hosting an ITA sanctioned tournament and the event is one of the few in the Gulf South, and it is something we should be proud of."
This year's Big Easy Classic is the result of a continuing effort for the school to host big events that contribute to the growth of the athletics program. Success at events like this is crucial for a host site to continue to be a big draw for future events.
"We learn from each event on how we can better it," said Kanga. "I've always believed in taking that extra step and building on it. If we're going to host something, let's do it first class.
"It is something where the visiting teams that come here can say, 'They really did a good job with this event.' And I think, the following year, we'll learn something from this event."
The Big Easy Classic will also be a good way for the university to draw in local support to come out and enjoy what the event has to offer, as well as getting as many regional schools as possible.
"We've always had an open invitation to everyone," said Kanga. "It will be great to get the tennis-playing community and support from the university." He also stressed that schools want their players to compete at sites that gives their students a chance to get a national ranking like the Big Easy Classic.
Kanga added that he believes New Orleans is a great site for hosting teams from out of town because the city has so much to offer those who do not always get the chance to visit.
"There is not a city like ours in the United States," said Kanga. "There's something to do all the time. We encourage the teams to stay in the vicinity of Downtown, whether it's in the Garden District, the Warehouse District, or the French Quarter."
"Anyone who comes here falls in love with the city, so I think they'll look forward to it and want to come back."
Play begins Friday morning at 9:00 a.m. at the University Tennis Center near the Lakefront Arena, and admission is free.