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Stonebridge Open set to crown new area champs in its 8th year

Photo by Danny Aller

Photo by Danny Aller

ALBANY -- Sometimes less is more.

Or, in the case of this weekend's 8th annual Stonebridge Open tennis tournament, less is more competitive.

The amateur tournament, the largest of its kind in Southwest Georgia, has never had less than 90 participants, but expects to have around 65 for year's installment.

That's not necessarily a bad thing, according to tournament director and Stonbridge head pro, Randy Jobson.

"(The field's) pretty even," Jobson said. "There will be some very good matches in all the events, because there's a lot of depth. Even in the first round."

The tournament officially begins today at 9 a.m. and lasts through Sunday with divisions for men's and women's singles and doubles, as well as mixed doubles.

Jobson said while he's not very familiar with some of the players who entered this year, he doesn't see anyone who stands out as a favorite -- which will hopefully make for an entertaining series of matches this weekend.

The tournament uses the National Tennis Rating Program to rate divisions and includes a variety of tennis backgrounds.

"We get players from all over Georgia," Jobson said. "Pretty much all levels."

David Wells, last year's 4.5 division winner in men's singles -- the tournament's marquee division -- will not be participating in singles this year due to a back injuries, but will be playing doubles with his son.

The 7.0 mixed doubles division features Deerfield-Windsor's Sarah Kitchen and Robert Newsome. Kitchen -- who won the GISA Class AAA state doubles title as a graduating senior this year with her sister,

Hope, a freshman -- has played in the tournament more than once, and said she looks forward to it each and every year.

"(Tournaments like these) are definitely fun and there's friendly competition," Sarah said. "It definitely gives you a chance to improve on your game."

Jobson, who spent four years playing (1965-69) and seven years coaching at Florida State University (1971-73 and 1980-83), has taught tennis for 40 years and drives 54 miles from Thomasville every day to Stonebridge, where he has been the head pro for the last nine years.

He said his goal for the tournament, which he founded when he came to Albany in 2001, is the same every year.

"We wanted to provide an environment where they would not only have the tennis, but a place they would enjoy themselves," Jobson said. "They look forward to coming back every year, they look forward to all the camaraderie and fellowship they get every year. That's kind of been our goal, and we've succeeded in that."