For the past 11 years the Palm Coast Tennis Center has hosted a USTA Pro Circuit men’s tennis tournament, and this week it’s back and loaded with players who one day could be competing along with former resident and current Top 50 pro Reilly Opelka.
The Palm Coast Open, a $25,000 official Futures (minor-league) tournament, begins today, with a 32-man field for singles, and a 16-team field for doubles.
And there’s a new presenting sponsor: Mr. Reilly Opelka himself, the former Palm Coast resident now zooming up the pro tennis ranks.
“We reached out to our tennis ambassadors and we’ve always had a good relationship with Reilly, so we’re thrilled to have him on board,” said Lauren Johnston, Parks and Recreation Director for Palm Coast. “Unfortunately due to his schedule he won’t be able to be here this year.”
The tournament, which is free for spectators, continues through Feb. 9 at the Tennis Center, and contains young players hoping to move up the ranks, and this year, in addition to Opelka, the No. 36-ranked ATP player, the event has added some new events to attract fans.
On Monday, the first day of the main draw of the singles event, there will be a Pro-Am and Players Party held at the Tennis Center from 6-8 p.m., with pros and local amateurs competing against each other. A $50 donation is required to participate, with the money going directly to the pros.
“Most of these players don’t make a lot of money playing tennis so they really appreciate it,” Johnston said. “It’s a fun way to see how good these (pro) players really are.”
On Thursday afternoon there will be a “Plated Palm Coast” event, featuring small plate dishes from participating Palm Coast restaurants. Ticket prices range between $20-40.
On Saturday the 8th from 9:30-11 a.m. it’ll be Kids Day at the tournament, with games and free clinics to aspiring Federers and Serenas. Johnston said rackets will be provided for children who don’t bring their own gear, and Brewster’s Ice Cream will be providing treats. Pre-registration is required.
The tournament concludes on Feb. 9 and there will be a Sunday Finals brunch, where for $10 per person fans can enjoy mimosas and brunch from 10 a.m.-1 p.m. The finals will begin Sunday at 11 a.m.
The Open itself consists of players ranked between No. 300 and above in the world rankings, and as usual boasts some top young American talent. College stars like Patrick Kypson (of Texas A&M), who played in the 2017 U.S. Open main draw, and Alex Rybakov (of Texas Christian University) will be in action, along with other young U.S. players like Martin Redlicki and Alexander Ritschard.
“It looks like it’ll be a really strong level of play,” said Michael Arrigo, the Tournament Director. “We’re hoping to attract people who aren’t tennis fans to come out and watch.”
Weather permitting, matches are scheduled to begin each day at 10 a.m.