Jan. 5, 2005 - Tennis will continue to be the biggest draw in town this week as the Annual Copper Bowl marches its army of players and supporters into the Hilton Tucson El Conquistador Resort and Country Club and other sites scattered throughout the Tucson area.

The biggest national junior tennis tourney of its kind in the nation, the Copper Bowl will welcome more than 900 players from more than 40 states and Canada from Jan. 1 through Jan. 6.

In years past, the Copper Bowl has drawn upwards of 1,200 competitors to the Tucson metro area.

Players will compete in both boys and girls singles and doubles, in age 12, 14, 16 and 18 brackets.

"It's to develop the kids' national rankings," said tournament director Don Dickinson of the philosophy behind the creation of the Copper Bowl.

To compete in the Copper Bowl, players must qualify a certain amount of points which are accrued by playing against and beating other ranked players.

Although the El Conquistador Resort and Country Club will be the host sites, other participating venues to aid with the sheer volume of matches will include the University of Arizona, Ironwood Ridge and Catalina Foothills high schools, Pima Community College, the Westward Look Resort, the Lodge at Ventana Canyon, Tucson Racquet Club and the Westin La Paloma Resort.

The Copper Bowl will follow the USTA National Winter Championships, which were held from Dec. 27 to Jan. 1. Many players in the 12- and 14-year-old age division find themselves staying in the Tucson area for the duration of both tourneys.

The two tournaments, which span 10 days, make the Tucson area the prime spot for national junior tennis in January. Together they bring more than $1 million in revenue to local hotels, restaurants and shops, Dickinson.

"They feed each other," said Dickinson of the Copper Bowl and Winter Nationals.

As for local talent competing in the tourney, Southern Arizona will be represented by 15 players from the Tucson area. Torrie Browning of IRHS is among the local players looking to make a dent in the enormous field of nationally ranked opponents. Last year as a junior at IRHS, Browning won the Class 4A state title.

For more information, times, dates and locations, go to www.copperbowl.com.

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