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College Tennis Players Spending the Summer with BB&T Atlanta Open
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While most college students are spending their summer break working at summer camps, house sitting or maintaining lawns, there a half-dozen or so college tennis players giving a needed assist to one of the biggest and most important tennis tournaments in the world. The tournament happens to be the BB&T Atlanta Open, an ATP World Tour 250 event that is one of eight summer tournaments in the Emirates Airline US Open Series. These student athletes are getting a rare opportunity to serve as contract employees or interns this summer for an event that features three-time defending champion John Isner, 1996 Olympic hero, Andre Agassi and Australian upstart, Nick Kyrgios.

Karlee Bryde (left), Paul LaHue, and Mary Walker Mixon volunteer at the BB&T Atlanta Open
courtesy, Rick Limpert
"It's a natural fit," says Eddie Gonzalez, Chief Business Officer and Tournament Director for the BB&T Atlanta Open. "For years, these student-athletes have worked hard on the court and in the classroom, now they are an integral part of our event."

Gonzalez goes on to say that college tennis players are the type of addition any organization would love to have on staff.

"Tennis players by nature are self starters and goal oriented, but college tennis players know what it means to be part of a team, and they don't want to let the team down."

The student-athletes are filling needed roles in the media center, operations, special events and ticketing.

"It's been great," offers Karlee Bryde, now a junior on the Furman University women's tennis team. "I'm majoring in Sports Marketing, so seeing how the marketing team works at the BB&T has helped me see all that goes on behind-the-scenes of a large sporting event."

Bryde, a Suwanee, Ga. native, is in her first year at the tournament. She has been planning the coin tosses, national anthems and different theme nights for tournament week.

"I can't wait to see it all come together and see all the hard work pay off. It's rewarding."

University of Tennessee Chattanooga men's tennis team member, Paul LaHue, has been interning in the ticketing department at the BB&T. LaHue has been "hands on" in ticket sales, learning to run a box office and making sure ticket holders are aware of the events happening throughout the nine-day run of the tournament. The sophomore from Memphis says the adjustment to becoming part of the "BB&T Atlanta Open Team" has been easy.

"It's a team, just like college tennis," explains LaHue. "Instead of just having a head and an assistant coach, now there is a tournament director, assistant director, sales staff and interns. Everyone has to work together."

LaHue chuckled that the job/internship has some unique perks.

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Page updated on Monday, March 11, 2019
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