New pro to improve tennis in New Albany
If tennis hasn’t garnered a lot of attention in the past, it’s about to change. Not only was New Albany host to its second junior sanctioned tournament last weekend, but working now at the new courts is tennis pro Bo Bowman, who brings an abundance of knowledge and ideas to help the sport grow in the area.
Coming from the coast, Bowman played collegiate tennis at Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College, holding national rankings in both doubles play and as an individual. Bowman has been a teaching professional since 2000 and also has his own business, Bowman’s Tennis Shop, which is currently the second largest pro shop in the state. The outpouring support from the community and the demand for growth in the sport is what led Bowman from Biloxi to New Albany.
“Everyone I’ve talked to from here is open to growth, and I didn’t have much of that in Biloxi,” Bowman said. “When I spoke to the mayor here as well as the community tennis association, they were excited to build, and that was the main reason.”
Bowman’s wife, Suzy Renick-Bowman, is from Ashland, so being closer to family was also a deciding factor.
The new courts have been open for a couple of months now, and not only has the community benefited from this, but the two tournaments the town has hosted has generated revenue, with last weekend’s tournament alone drawing in 120 participants, an increase from June’s tournament, which had around 90 participating.
The ultimate goal is to bring in more tournaments, and Bowman is the person who can do this. In the past, he has brought in around 15 tournaments a year to Biloxi, and is sure to do the same in New Albany as he currently carries the title of the MS Tennis Association’s Tennis Professional of the Year and the USTA’s Southern Section Professional of the Year.
In only his second week working in New Albany giving private lessons, Bowman has already seen an outpouring of interest from all age groups.
“It’s overwhelming,” he said. “I had five pros on the coast, and I can bring all of them up here right now and they would be booked. It’s that large of a response, and I haven’t even touched the adults yet. Warner (Creekmore) and Tamara (Godbold) have done so much as well. They won state last year, and now they have their kids here working on their state and southern rankings.”
Not only is New Albany taking advantage of Bowman’s services, but a group he worked with earlier in the week brought in kids from Baldwyn, Pontotoc, Amory and Oxford. Now, the focus is educating the public on the possibilities of the sport as well as finishing projects at the new courts, including paving the parking lot, making room for Bowman’s pro shop and installing showers for tournaments.
“It’s all about educating the adults, because it’s the easiest sport to get into, and it also has a variety of range of what you can do with it,” Bowman said. “Once they know about this, they know how it will benefit them, and it will bring in an economic impact.”
New Albany has a lot to look forward to with Bowman’s addition, and look for the town’s tennis program to grow drastically.
About Chris Elkins
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