OJAI, Calif. (April 14, 2016) – The 116th Ojai Valley Tennis Tournament – Ventura County’s popular spring tradition unlike any other and known by its players and diehard fans as “The Ojai” – gets underway on Tuesday, April 19, with play in the men’s and women’s Open divisions.
Founded in 1896 by William Thacher, The Ojai is North America’s longest running amateur tennis tournament played at the same location.
The Ojai features more than 1,500 competitors playing across 29 different draws – ranging from junior and CIF (high school) divisions to the Open divisions and Pac-12 men’s team championships and women’s individual championships. The events are played on courts across West Ventura County, including Ojai private homes, Ventura, and Oxnard. Pac-12 men’s team play and finals are hosted at Libbey Park in downtown Ojai. For tickets to the tennis action at Libbey Park, the Ojai Valley Inn (Open division) and the Ojai Athletic Club (Pac-12 women), and for more information on The Ojai, visit the tournament website, theojai.net.
Among The Ojai’s tennis highlights during tournament week (Apr. 19-24):
- Men’s and women’s Open division play begins April 19 at the Ojai Athletic Club (409 Fox St, Ojai, CA 93023) is free to fans that day. Featured players include former ATP Tour pro, Ojai resident and 2015 Men’s Open singles runner-up Lester Cook, high schoolers Brandon Holt (son of 1979 and 1981 U.S. Open women’s singles champion Tracy Austin) and Riley Smith (son of USC men’s tennis coach Peter Smith), who teamed to reach the 2015 U.S. Open junior boys’ doubles final, and defending women’s Open singles champ Ena Shibahara. At stake in the Open divisions is $22,500 in prize money, once again generously donated by longtime sponsor Mike Taggart.
- The Pac-12 men’s dual-match championships begin Wednesday, April 20. Since the Pac-12 team championships has been held at Libbey Park, two college tennis programs have won the conference title – USC in 2012 and 2015, and UCLA in 2013 and 2014.
- The California Community College Athletic Association’s (CCCAA) men’s and women’s State Team Championship finals will be played at The Ojai for the fourth consecutive year on April 20. Southern and Northern California regional play is ongoing and the finalists have yet to be determined.
- The three-day draws in the Juniors (Boys 14s and 16s; Girls 14s, 16s and 18s) and Boys’ CIF divisions opens on Thursday, April 21 at various sites within Ojai. All Junior and CIF finals will be played on Saturday, April 23. Corona del Mar High senior Bjorn Hoffmann stands as the early favorite to win the coveted Boys’ CIF singles crown after reaching last year’s final.
- The Ojai’s traditional Thursday Night (Apr. 21) Player Party BBQ extravaganza in Libbey Park honors Glenn Bassett and Dick Leach – former Ojai champions and retired former coaches of UCLA and USC, respectively. Bassett, 85, coached UCLA from 1967-1993 and was at the helm to oversee seven NCAA team championships, three NCAA singles champions and four NCAA doubles team champions. Leach, 76, was an All-American player at USC before coaching the Trojans (from 1980-2002) to three NCAA team titles and skippering, two NCAA singles champs and three NCAA doubles team champs, including his son, Rick, the husband of Grand Slam champion Lindsay Davenport. Bassett and Leach spent a combined 135 years playing and coaching The Ojai.
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