BRADENTON -- Entering its 29th year, the Eddie Herr International Junior Tennis Championship is the biggest to date.
Just ask the 1,524 competitors from about 90 different countries.
"We've planning for this for a long time," IMG Academy director of events Titus Queen said. "Honestly, it's kind of like Christmas. I'm ready to get it started right now."
The tournament, which is divided into four age groups for boys and girls, won't crown champions until early December. The the main draw begins Monday.
But the qualifying draw for some players starts Wednesday and runs through this weekend.
Players in the 12s, 14s and 16s will duke it out on hard courts, while the girls and boys divisions of the 18s will test their skill on clay.
And for that latter age bracket, the chance to see a future tennis star in the professional ranks is a distinct possibility.
That's because the likes of Andy Roddick, Maria Sharapova and Marcelo Rios are just a few of the well-known names that have graced the Herr tournament during their junior years.
Since 1999, the event has been held at IMG Academy.
It's a tournament that is considered near the top of the junior tennis food chain, alongside the Orange Bowl in the Miami area and outside of the four Grand Slam events.
"You get to see the up-and-coming talent," IMG Academy's head of adult tennis Jimmy Royalty said. "A kid who might win the 12s or might win the 14s, is that going to be the next Federer? Is that going to be the next Djokovic? You don't know."
A perfect example of that is what occurred earlier this year at Wimbledon, albeit still on the junior circuit. The reigning Herr 18s boys cham
pion, Reilly Opelka, took down the boys single title at Wimbledon, and defeated a past Herr competitor in Sweden's Mikael Ymer.
Hungary's Dalma Galfi is the favorite to take down the girls 18 title for a second straight year, and earned the girls doubles title at Wimbledon with partner Fanny Stollar, who won the 14s Herr title back in 2012.
Stollar, an IMG Academy trainee, is in the field for the singles crown, too. The reigning Wimbledon girls singles champion, Russia's Sofya Zhuk, is slated to play as well.
The trio are just a few of the top junior players competing for the coveted Herr title for their respective age division.
While facing the best players in the world for that age bracket is a treat, there's an added bonus to playing in the Herr. And that is players will be squaring off in front of college recruiters, even as young as the 12s and 14s.
"Their radar is out to those college coaches," Royalty said. "And at one time, it's a good place to showcase your talent."
Unlike in past years, patrons wishing to see the action won't be parking across the street from IMG Academy at Bayshore High School's parking lot.
Rather, parking is on the west side of the campus located on Bollettieri Blvd. off 53rd Ave. W. Various trams will shuttle spectators to the east side of campus to watch the action unfold all week.
Queen said parking $5, while concessions will be available, too.
"For $5, it's a whole day of tennis," Queen said. "It's pretty cheap family entertainment if you're into tennis."