Hardee's Pro Classic brings tennis to Dothan year-round

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DOTHAN, Ala. (WTVY) - Some of the world's best female athletes have been serving up aces at the Hardee’s Pro Classic all week. There can only be a few winners in the tournament, but the real victory may be for the City of Dothan.

The Hardee's Pro Classic brings elite talent from all over the world to the Westgate Tennis Center in Dothan, and while fans may only be able to enjoy the competition for a week, it has a lasting impact on the city all year long.

"Number one; get a shot of them hitting the ball, where you can see the ball,” said Hardee’s Pro Classic Fan Mike West. “The second thing you shoot for is the expressions and the movement of their bodies as they get to that."

Mike West moved to Dothan 14 years ago, and comes to the Hardee’s Pro Classic every year for a chance to improve at his hobby - photography.

He may be there to take pictures, but the talent never fails to blow him away.

"Being a former tennis player, it makes me a little envious of how easy they make the game look,” said West.

While Mike and the rest of the fans are enjoying the matches, the City of Dothan is enjoying the publicity the tournament brings.

"We can go out now and say, we host - Dothan - we host a professional tennis tournament every year, we can host yours as well,” said Visit Dothan President Aaron McCreight.

McCreight says the various tennis tournaments the city hosts throughout the year brings in around one and a half million dollars.

Those all started with the Hardee's Pro Classic, which is in its 19th year.

"Every year, every aspect, everybody gets better at their job. A lot of people go into putting this on," said Hardee’s Pro Classic Director Kim Meeker.

No matter who wins, the City of Dothan is happy to host the tournament year after year.

So people like Mike can enjoy the tournament, one picture at a time.

"Since the play is happening so quickly, you want a picture that's in focus,” said West. “That's why I shoot at 3/1000's of a second."

The women competing in the tournament have a chance at winning money, but more importantly, points.

Those points go toward landing them a spot in even bigger tournaments, like the French Open.