The singles field is down to 64 competitors this week in the fifth Victoria International Junior ITF tennis tournament at Panorama Recreation Centre in North Saanich.
Eighty-six players, girls and boys, in the International Tennis Federation (ITF) junior ranks started the qualifying rounds over the weekend in singles and doubles action and the first round of play started Tuesday morning.
The event draws young players from across Canada, the U.S.A., Mexico and from as far away as Japan, Bulgaria and Brazil. They are each competing for points on the international tennis rankings list.
“There are about 40 players here who have international rankings,” says Eric Knoester, racquet sports co-ordinator for Panorama Recreation. “Others are here with only one or two years’ experience and are trying to get on that board.”
To gain points, Knoester explained, the competitors have to win matches at events like this one. Win enough of them in a row, and the players attain a ranking.
In this week’s tournament, the girls’ singles field is led by number-one-ranked Sophia Ho from Canada and second-ranked player Laura Arce from Mexico. Canadian players fill out the other top six positions. Among the boys, the number one seed is Canada’s Razvan Baiant, with Canada’s Niels Van Noord in second spot.
A win in this tournament, Knoester added, can allow a player to jump 100 to 150 spots in the ITF rankings at this level.
This is Panorama’s fifth Victoria International Junior ITF tournament and Knoester said they added their first Panorama international tennis event earlier this spring. Both events, he said, are an opportunity for local and national players to compete at an international level while staying a little closer to home. The events bring young players back each year, as they advance in their tennis careers.
The tournaments, Knoester said, bring the players, their families and coaches to the Saanich Peninsula and they represent a $50,000 to $60,000 boost to the local economy — whether that be in hotels or restaurants.
“It’s an eight-day event. It adds up.”
The second round of action goes Wednesday and quarterfinals start Thursday (8:3o a.m. to 5:30 p.m.). Semi-finals are Friday (8:30 a.m. to around 4 p.m.) and the final matches are Saturday.
Knoester said public seating down on the Panorama courts will be in place starting Thursday, allowing people to come by the tennis facility and watch some great tennis action.