The summer sports desert meets its oasis this week.
For one week, baseball won't be the only game in town. Saturday's opening of the Nike Peach Jam Invitational basketball tournament signaled the start of a week-long mini-Olympics for the area one year after the Atlanta Games.
The agenda includes national-level high school basketball and women's amateur golf tournaments, the inaugural women's amateur boxing championship and drag-boat racing on the Savannah River:
First up is the Nike tournament, which features 24 teams from around the nation and most of the top 100 prep basketball players. The event also brings the majority of the country's big-name college coaches, who are trying to gain an edge in recruiting. The Riverview Park Activity Center has drawn raves from participants because it allows four games to be played at once. Pool play begins Monday, and the event concludes with Thursday morning's final. There is no admission charge for any session.
The 67th Women's Trans National Golf Association Championship begins Tuesday at Aiken's Houndslake Country Club. The event includes four of the top 10 women amateurs in the nation, and its past champions list includes Babe Zaharias and Nancy Lopez. The endurance test concludes with next Sunday's 36-hole match-play final. In addition, the Augusta City Amateur begins Friday at Forest Hills Golf Club.
Women's boxing unveils its first amateur championship Wednesday through Saturday, on the heels of the recent success of women's professional bouts. There is a full field, which begins fighting Wednesday at Warren Road Community Center. Next Saturday's finals are scheduled for Bell Auditorium. Tickets for preliminary rounds are $1 for children under 12 and $3 for adults and the finals range from $5, $10 and $15 for general admission, with ringside seats $25-$100.
As the week winds down, a seat on the bank of the Savannah River may be appropriate. The 12th Augusta Southern Nationals draws huge crowds to watch drag boats speed past Riverfront Augusta Marina. Tom Cantrell, who will not be competing, recently ran 241.96 mph at Phoenix. Tickets are $15 daily and $25 for two days at the gate.