112th Ojai Valley Tennis Tournament
The Ojai Valley Tennis Club, founded in 1895, and sponsor of the largest amateur tennis tournament in the United States, will present the 112th Ojai Valley Tennis Tournament April 24-29, 2012. The tiny southern California community of Ojai, surrounded by rugged mountains and nestled among orange groves, has hosted the Tournament, referred to as ‘The Ojai’®, since 1896, when it was founded by NCAA doubles champion William L. Thacher to promote amateur tennis in California.
Operating with no paid employees, and no tennis courts of its own, the non-profit Ojai Valley Tennis Club produces ‘The Ojai’® by the concerted efforts of over 600 volunteers. Tennis courts are made available by local municipalities, schools, clubs, and private residents. Volunteers prepare the courts at the various venues, man tournament desks and media headquarters, maintain score keeping, and serve complimentary fresh orange juice to players and spectators. In the afternoon, local women volunteer to serve tea from silver urns in china cups, continuing a tradition started in 1904. The Club led the effort to rebuild the city’s four upper public courts in 2003, and completed reconstruction of the four lower courts in 2009. It is no wonder that Ojai was a finalist in the USTA’s “Best Tennis Town In America.”
“The Ojai” has showcased many of the great tennis players of this century, including: Bill Tilden, Ellsworth Vines, Helen Wills Moody, Tony Trabert, Bobby Riggs, Jack Kramer, Louise Brough, Maureen Connolly, Gussie Moran, Arthur Ashe, Billy Jean King, Pancho Gonzales, Alex Olmedo, Stan Smith, Jimmy Connors. Michael Chang, Lindsay Davenport, Pete Sampras, Rick Leach, Taylor Dent and the Bryan twins. May Sutton Bundy, who won 18 Ojai titles between 1902 and 1928, was the first American to win at Wimbledon. Local favorites Mike and Bob Bryan have won the Men’s Doubles at the U.S. Open, Wimbledon, French and Australian Opens, and the Stanford ATP doubles race. In total, 85 players who have competed at The Ojai® have gone on to win one or more titles in the events that make up tennis’s “Grand Slam,” and their names appear on the Wall of Fame in Libbey Park.
Libbey Park is the main venue for the tournament. This year the Tennis Club completed a renovation of the Lower Libbey Courts to match the Upper Libbey court project completed in 2003. The courts, in the heart of downtown Ojai, are the site of the annual Pac-12 men’s team championship matches, the annual Pac-12 women’s singles and doubles semifinals, and the finals of all divisions of ‘The Ojai’®, including Div. III West Regionals, Community and Independent Colleges, Junior and CIF events, and the Open. The Open Division, offering prize money since the 103rd Ojai has been extremely popular, and provided some of the finest tennis of the Tournament in recent years.