CAMILLA, GA (WALB) - Camilla is known around the world for its tennis tournament that has brought hundreds of pros to this small South Georgia town, raising money for the local charities.
The tournament was the dream of a Mitchell County farmer, who started it 40 years, and has driven it all these decades as a tournament of love.
Eddie Williamson gives tennis lessons to some of the mentally challenged clients of the Mitchell Baker Service Center. 40 years ago the former Auburn University player started the tennis tournament, inviting veteran pros to enjoy a weekend of South Georgia hospitality and competition.
"And then I said, gosh, I can combine my involvement with the Mitchell Baker Service Center to the tennis. And that's when we bought the first building," he recalled.
In 40 years the tennis tournament has raised more than one million one hundred thousand dollars, that built the Service Center with no government funds.
"And without the tennis tournament we couldn't do near what we do," said Sheryl Foister, Secretary of the Mitchell Baker Service Center.
Williamson's tournament has also built the Boys and Girl's Clubs, serving 450 kids a day.
"It's actually the reason we are able to run programs. The money we are able to put directly into our programs," said Ondrea Davis, the Executive Director of the Boys and Girls Clubs of Mitchell County.
For Williamson, his tennis tournament had it's 40th anniversary over the weekend, with pros from as far as South Africa, Brazil, and Sweden. Still going strong because of the community support.
"It's really unique. But more than that, it's a lot of fun. And look at the good we've done," noted Williamson.
Williamson said the tennis pros are fighting to come play in Camilla, because in the tennis tournament here, "love" is a good thing.
The Camilla Tennis tournament over the weekend raised $70,000 that will serve the mentally challenged, and the youth of Mitchell County.