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Tournament Feature
Gator Bowl Roundup

Last weekend, it was my pleasure to be able to attend a Level 3 National in northern Florida - the ATP Gator Bowl Championships.

Today's article gives you a history of these venerable championships - and a review of the 18s. Tomorrow I will provide a wrap-up of the younger age divisions.

Gator Bowl History

ATP - Site of Girls' 16s
These Gator Bowl Championships are some thirty years old. But, not surprisingly, the directors and dates have changed through the years. Until it went on the USTA National Schedule six years ago, the Gator Bowl was played close to the time of the football bowl game - between Christmas and New Year's Day. It also attracted a field of both US and international players.

Back then, it was run by a group of volunteers under the auspices of the Northeast Florida Tennis Foundation. And since the tournament lasted a week, there were a lot more players.

"The complexion of the tournament changed radically when it joined the USTA national schedule - with the date moved to the spring and the restriction of 32-draws played on only three days," said Janice Smith, who has served the tournament as its manager for more than ten years. "It was always the goal of the Gator Bowl to get on the National Schedule - to make it a more prestigious event for US juniors."

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