A Brief History of the Central Ohio Grand Prix
In 1983, Alann Leinwohl started a tournament, the Newark Open, at the OSU-Newark campus. Two years later, during the summer of 1985, he began discussions with a group of tournament directors about organizing their events in terms of scheduling and creating a unified circuit with a Masters finale. As a result of these talks, the Central Ohio Grand Prix tour debuted in 1986.
That first year, the circuit was quite informal. The job of organizing fell to Leinwohl and he added the Masters tournament at the end of the 1986 season in Newark. Subsequent Masters events alternated between Newark and Lancaster until 1991 when the tournament moved to Wolfe Park in Columbus.
By 1988, the COGP tournaments began paying fees to support the publication of a yearbook and promotion of the tour through advertising and direct mail. Leinwohl also offered tournament directors a computerized draw-making program which he developed. Individual memberships were sold offering players discounts on entry fees, stringing and equipment. Also in 1988, the Tennisfax Ranking System was adopted as a basis for seeding in COGP events. In the beginning, the goal was simple... just a little organization. Soon, the COGP took on a life of its own. By 1991, every week from Memorial Day to early October was filled by a COGP tour event.
While the tour started as an adult organization, Leinwohl is proud of adding junior events to the circuit. He sees the COGP as a place for kids who are just starting to play tournaments. Many COGP players have gone on to success in OVTA and Midwest events while they continue to play on the COGP tour.
In 2000, The COGP launched a web site where players can find announcements, match results, tournament reports and current rankings. The COGP also provided individual tournaments on the circuit with their own web pages. Visitors can enter tournaments online and find match schedules and results posted daily.
Leinwohl retired as tour director after the 2002 season. New owners Arnie Jones and Alan Kinnard will continue the COGP philosophy. Jones and Kinnard would like to see the COGP membership base expand. They also see the need to encourage kids to make the transition from junior to adult events and to keep the 20-something player competing on the tour. They feel the COGP tour is a great place for the high school and college players to compete with top amateurs and teaching pros.