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 Ojai Valley Tennis Tournament, referred to as ‘The Ojai’®, April 24-29, 2012 This years Tournament is the 112th since 1896, when it was founded by NCAA doubles champion William L. Thacher to promote amateur tennis in California.
The tiny southern California community of Ojai, finalist in the recent USTA “Best Tennis Town In America” contest, surrounded by rugged mountains and nestled among picturesque orange groves, throws open its doors annually for this event. Innkeepers, restaurateurs, gallery owners and shop keepers welcome the influx of tennis fans and tourists for the four day event, which happens annually the last full weekend in April, although this year the Tournament was moved one week because of Easter Sunday. Local residents play hosts to tennis players from all over California and the western states. Visitors also stay in the neighboring communities of Ventura and Santa Barbara.
The non-profit Ojai Valley Tennis Club, with no paid employees, and no tennis courts of its own, produces ‘The Ojai’® by the concerted efforts of over 500 volunteers. The tennis courts are made available by local 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. On Thursday night, the Tennis Club conducts a barbeque open to the public, with tennis celebrity guest appearances, and prizes from local and national sponsors. The Club, a strong supporter of the City of Ojai, led the effort to rebuild the City’s public tennis courts in 2003, completing the project in 2008. The complex has been recognized by the USTA as a winner in the “small community public facility” category.
This combination of genteel hospitality and community spirit has played host to many of the great tennis players of this century, including: Bill Tilden, Tony Trabert, Bobby Riggs, Jack Kramer, Arthur Ashe, Billy Jean King, Pancho Gonzales, Alex Olmedo, Stan Smith, Jimmy Connors, Michael Chang, Lindsay Davenport, and Pete Sampras, and 2003 French Open champions, Mike and Bob Bryan. The “Wall of Champions” at the grandstand in Libbey Park names 85 players who competed at Ojai, and then won one or more of the major tournaments which make up tennis’s “Grand Slam.”
The Tournament is the home of the annual Pac-12 women’s individual championships, and commencing in 2012, the annual Pac-12 men’s team championships. Libbey Park, in the heart of Ojai, is the venue for the finals of all divisions of ‘The Ojai’®, including Div. III West Regionals, Community and Independent Colleges, Junior and CIF events, and the Open.