April 12, 2005
Camilla - The year was 1975 and former Auburn tennis standout Eddie Williamson decided to hold a small professional tournament to raise money for the Mitchell-Baker Service Center.
Three decades later, Williamson's small tournament has turned into one of the most anticipated events on the senior tour.
The 30th annual Camilla Pro Invitational gets started Friday at the Mitchell-Baker Tennis Center.
The tournament features 18 players who are among the best senior players in the world.
The real winners in the Camilla Invitational are the charities who receive the more than $750,000 the tournament has raised over the last 30 years.
Eddie Williamson is very proud of the facilities the tournament has provided for the Mitchell-Baker Service Center and the Boys and Girls Club and the hiring of a full-time professional to teach the game of tennis to local children.
And as the tournament has grown so have the clients at the Mitchell-Baker Service Center.
The Mtichell-Baker Service Center last year was able use money raised from the tournament to buy a group home for their clients to live.
Some of those residents were children and clients of the service center when this tournament began.
Eddie Williamson said "And now they are in their 30's, 40's and even their 50's. And many of their parents are in bad health and dying and they need a place to live. And we just recently brought a group home down in Pelham, about a $150,000 investment. Again, no taxpayer's money, all from the tennis benefit."
The 30th anniversary of the Camilla Tennis Invitational also marks the first year the event will be played on three brand new clay courts just built at the Mitchell County Tennis Center.
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