By TONY VIOLA
WHEELING - The Ohio Valley summer tennis season continues this week as Oglebay Park will play host to the 10th annual Ohio Valley Tennis Classic, beginning tonight.
This year's event will have 16 different men's and women's events ranging from middle school participants through men's 65 and over, which, according to tournament director Chris Freeman, gives the tournament ''quite a range of age groups.''
''There's a very strong field,'' Freeman said. ''Mixed doubles, oddly enough, seems to be the strongest.''
First-round action will start at 6 p.m. with Men's Singles, Boy's Middle School singles, Men's 45 Singles and Boy's High School Singles.
Tournament participants include Nick and Matt Conforti, who recently made a trip to the state tennis tournament with Weirton Madonna, as well as Isac Smith, Matt Harvey, Matthew Naile, Tyler Keller, Steve Jacobson and Carmen Alexandra.
Nationally ranked Mark Panepinto will also be in action on the Oglebay courts. Panepinto is scheduled for Men's Singles, Men's Doubles and Mixed Doubles.
Freeman pointed out that this tournament is different from others like the Jack Dorsey Memorial since it is geared toward local players.
Originally, the tournament started with two purposes. First, to raise money for local high school tennis programs, and second, to provide a local tournament for area tennis enthusiasts.
The main sponsors for this year's event include West Liberty University and Raymond James.
Though the tournament hasn't experienced much growth over the last decade, Freeman doesn't seem to mind.
''It's pretty much just stayed the same,'' he said. ''We just hold our own and we're happy with that.''
The tournament is free, open to the public, and will conclude with finals action on Saturday and Sunday.