Among the many talented players in Bartow, several developed their games while training with Cartersville Parks and Recreation Tennis Coordinator J.P Vidour at Dellinger Park.
“I work with tons of players, a lot of the players that play for the local schools. We work with almost all of them,” Vidour said. “There are a lot of talented players. These players, they all play in competitive tennis tournaments and they travel.”
Two freshmen, Avery Cornett and Kenly King, played big roles on Bartow County tennis teams this past spring and train with Vidour.
Cornett was the No. 1 singles player for the Cass boys tennis team while King was the No. 2 player for the region champion Cartersville girls team.
Behind Cornett at Cass on the No. 2 singles line in 2014 was Eric Dunlap, another Vidour disciple.
Erin Marratta was the No. 1 player for Woodland’s girls team as a junior and also trains with Vidour.
Vidour also has trained with Excel Christian Academy’s No. 1 singles player, Cade Archer, among others.
In addition to the players currently contributing to Bartow high school teams, there also is plenty of talent on the horizon, according to Vidour.
“We have a lot of 9-year-olds, 10-year-olds. They’re prodigies. They’re awesome,” Vidour said. “The little group that I love, the 9-, 10-year-olds are very good. Mac Dempsey is going into the fifth grade. Luke Gambill, Emma McCary, Anderson [McCary], those kids are going to be the best that ever came out of Cartersville if things go their way and they keep playing. We’re excited about them. They are so young and they are playing so good.”
Assistant coaches at Dellinger Park include Terry Billings and former Woodland High No. 1 singles player Andrew McMillan.
Under the tutelage of the Dellinger Park tennis staff, some players have already gone on to earn college scholarships. Cartersville High graduate Maggie Dowling is currently playing for Abraham Baldwin Agricultural College, while Cartersville alum Trevor Gotkowski played No. 4 and No. 5 singles for Wofford in 2014. Gotkowski also went 7-2 as a member of the No. 3 doubles team.
“Trevor trained with us for a long time,” Vidour said. “He’s one of the best players ever from Cartersville.”
Vidour, himself, comes from Argentina and moved to the United States nearly 10 years ago to play for Shorter University.
“I came to play college tennis. I had a good time there. Then, while I was playing, I was coaching part-time and I loved tennis, so I just figured I would stay in it,” Vidour said. “I started in business administration, but my passion was tennis, so I said, ‘I’m going to go with what I love,’ and there was a great opportunity here at Dellinger. I just love it.”
Vidour has already made an impact on the growing tennis scene in the area and has been with the Cartersville Parks and Recreation Department for five years.
“I feel like we have around 60 players, and that’s just the players that come in a couple of times a week. When we started, we had about half as many,” Vidour said. “Sometimes, the athletes play football, basketball, baseball, whatever. Now we are finally getting the really good athletes. The young athletes that played two sports are now committing to tennis. The ones from 10 to 15 years old are training 15 hours a week and they come almost every day. So we are getting more athletes.
“Cartersville is going to be known as far as developing good players. In the last couple of years, we already have top 100 players in Georgia. Kenly King, she is 86 [in the USTA rankings]. Luke Gambill is top 100, Anderson McCary is top 100. “
According to Vidour, the current success of the youth tennis players is just a start. Vidour hopes to improve the quality of players in the area, and in turn, grow the sport.
“The goal is to be the best program in the U.S. one day. It might take more years. You never know, but first to be one of the best programs in north Georgia,” he said. “I think we are. We’re getting more recognition from Atlanta. The key to everything is more players playing better and more players winning. It takes years to get that.
“The overall mission is to grow tennis. I believe if we have better players, I think that is a good way to create awareness.”