The East Kootenay Open will be held in Fernie from July 20-22. File photo

East Kootenay Open this weekend

Fernie tennis players are warming up for the biggest tournament east of the Okanagan.

  • Jul. 12, 2018 12:00 a.m.

Fernie tennis players are warming up for the biggest tournament east of the Okanagan, with $1000 in cash up for grabs.

They will face opponents from across the province and Alberta at the third annual East Kootenay Open, which will be held from July 20-22 at the James White Park tennis courts.

“Every year, it gets bigger and bigger,” said Fernie Tennis Community Association director Rob Oleksiuk.

“It’s a great chance for a lot of the local players in the Kootenays to show off some of their tennis talent against each other, but also against players who come from as far as Vancouver and Edmonton to play.”

As of last week, there was a waitlist for the men’s singles event, while the ladies’ event was almost full, with 16 players to compete in each category.

The doubles competition will be contested by a total of 16 men’s and women’s teams.

Oleksiuk said about 30-40 per cent of entries for the tournament were Kootenays-based, including Fernie, which boasted a strong tennis community.

“I think probably one of the biggest attributes of the event is how many returning players we get every year, people who make a point of coming to Fernie not only to play tennis but as part of a vacation as well,” said Oleksiuk.

“In the first year we did the tournament, we generated over 120 visitor days from just a three-day tournament, so it’s quite special and last year was even bigger.”

Players will have a chance to share in $1000 in cash as well as draw prizes from local businesses and a free player barbecue.

Matches start at 5 p.m. on Friday, July 20 and run until Sunday afternoon.

Entries closed on July 8 with draw information and times to be posted to Tennisfernie.com by July 12.

Oleksiuk thanked Fernie Alpine Resort for supporting the tournament through its Community Summit Fund.

Junior tennis tournament cancelled

Fernie’s first tennis tournament of the summer has been cancelled as organizers consider increasing costs and a new direction.

Open to players aged 6-16, the Rogers Rookie Tour is a national program designed to bridge the gap between entry-level tennis and the provincial competitive junior circuit.

The Tennis BC-sanctioned tournament was due to be held in Fernie on Friday, July 13, however, organizers have decided to cancel the event.

“This is partly down to a new rental fee and partly down to the fact that we want to bring in some new and hopefully better events next year,” said Fernie Tennis coach Charlotte Willis.

“We are always trying to improve the programs.”

Willis said any players already signed up would receive a full refund from Tennis Canada.

Fernie Tennis is now paying rental fees to the City of Fernie, which operates the tennis courts.

Willis said the association was happy to contribute to the maintenance of the public facility.

“For the most part, this will not change anything about the courses, they will still be awesome,” she said.

“However, we are now formally booking hours with the City so they can see how much tennis has grown in our community.”

The Free Press

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