The 119th-annual Ojai Tennis Tournament kicks off on Wednesday with the first two of the week’s 25 championship matches – the California Community College Athletic Association (CCCAA) Men’s and Women’s Dual Team Tennis State Championships – along with three Pac-12 Women’s Tennis Championships matches at the Ojai Valley Athletic Club and Weil Tennis Academy, and one Pac-12 Men’s Tennis Championships play-in match at Libbey Park in downtown Ojai.
The CCCAA Men’s Dual Team State Championship match pits Southern California champion College of the Desert (18-1) vs. Northern California champ Foothill College (15-1) at 1 p.m. Wednesday at the Pierpont Racquet Club in Ventura. The CCCAA Women’s State Championship match features the top seeds from Southern and Northern California with Orange Coast College (21-0) vs. Foothill (18-1) at 12 p.m. Wednesday at Ventura College.
The Pac-12 Men’s Tennis Championships takes place at The Ojai this week for the eighth consecutive year. UCLA has won four of these titles, including last year’s, and USC won in 2012, 2015 and 2017. UCLA, USC and Stanford are seeded Nos. 1-3, respectively, at The Ojai this week and are ranked within the top 15 of NCAA Division I men’s tennis. These teams will open Pac-12 quarterfinal play in Ojai on Thursday.
The top two seeds at the Pac-12 Women’s Tennis Championships are 2018 NCAA Division I and Pac-12 champion Stanford and 2018 NCAA Division I quarterfinalist UCLA, which lost to the Cardinal in last year’s Pac-12 team title match at Libbey Park. Stanford has been the No. 1 seed every year since the Pac-12 Women’s Tennis Championships moved to The Ojai in 2016. Washington, USC and California are seeded No. 3-5, respectively, and rank within NCAA Division I’s top 15 schools, showing the tremendous depth of Pac-12 competition.
There is more than $30,000 of prize money at stake in The Ojai’s Men’s and Women’s Open divisions. Jared Hiltzik (Wilmette, Ill.) is the top seed with 2017 Ojai champ Henry Craig seeded No. 2, Karue Sell (Los Angeles) seeded third and El Cajon resident Isaiah Strode seeded fourth. Also in the field are 2015 Ojai winner Philip Bester, and USC recruit Stefan Dostanic, a Woodbridge-Irvine High senior and last year’s Ojai CIF Boys’ singles champion.
The Women’s Open singles bracket is buoyed by top seed Hanna Chang, of Fontana, No. 2 seed Mahak Jain, of San Jose, and showcases The Ojai’s 2018 Girls’ 18s champion, Eryn Cayetano, in the qualifying draw. She is a high school senior from Corona, will play for USC in the fall, and was The Ojai’s 2017 Girls’ 16s singles runner-up.
Aditya Gupta, a senior from University High School in Irvine who is committed to attend the University of Pennsylvania, leads a group of talented CIF Boys singles players vying to win the coveted Farnam Cup, which is the oldest perpetual trophy still awarded at The Ojai and first presented in 1902. Other top contenders in the 64-player CIF Boys singles draw include Henry Lovett (Palisades, Pacific Palisades), Brett Brinkman (Chaminade, West Hills), Christopher Papa (Cypress) and Ian Freer (St. Francis, La Canada).
Matthew Sah and Eshan Talluri from San Diego tennis factory Torrey Pines High School is considered the favorite in the CIF Boys doubles division. They will look to capture the Wightman Cup, first presented at The Ojai in 1910. Last year, the University of Texas-bound Talluri teamed with future Longhorns teammate Siem Woldeab to win the SoCal Sectionals 18s doubles title. He and Woldeab also earned a USTA Silver Ball in doubles in the 16s at the USTA Hardcourt Nationals in Kalamazoo, Mich.
Sean Holt and Kai Brady (Palos Verdes), David Arkow and Jonah Dickson (Harvard-Westlake, North Hollywood), and Matthew Poh and Kyle Sillman (Mira Costa, Manhattan Beach) will also be among those competing for the CIF Boys doubles crown. While playing for Redondo Union last year, Brady made The Ojai’s CIF Boys final in doubles with Sundeep Chakladar. Holt is the younger brother of current USC No. 1 player Brandon Holt, and his mother is International Tennis Hall of Famer and past U.S. Open and Ojai champion Tracy Austin.
For more information on this year’s tournament, see below:
119TH OJAI TENNIS TOURNAMENT FACT SHEET
Event: The 119th-annual (2019) Ojai Tennis Tournament. Approximately 1,500 players participate across 25 divisions, including the Men’s and Women’s Open singles and doubles divisions, the Pac-12 Conference (NCAA) Men’s & Women’s Team Championships, the California Community College Athletic Association (CCCAA) Men’s & Women’s State Team and Individual Championships (singles and doubles), and the CIF Boys’ singles and doubles divisions.
When & Where: April 24-28 at host venue Libbey Park (210 S. Signal St, Ojai), Ojai Valley Inn, Ojai Valley Athletic Club, Ventura College, Pierpont Racquet Club, Camino Real Park, Channel Islands Racquet Club, and select schools and private homes in Ojai, Ventura, and Oxnard.
Schedule of Play: www.theojai.net/tournament-info/schedule
2019 Tournament Honorees: Larry Scott and Steve Johnson. Scott, 54, has been the Pac-12 Commissioner since 2009. He previously served as chairman and CEO of the Women’s Tennis Association (WTA) and as president and COO of ATP Properties, a division of the Association of Tennis Professionals. Once a captain of the Harvard University tennis team, Scott went on to play on the ATP Tour in the mid-1980s.
USC Trojan alumnus Johnson, 29, was honored as the Pac-12 Men’s Tennis Player of the Century in 2016 and is currently No. 59 in the ATP Tour rankings. Johnson won NCAA Division I team titles in all four seasons (2009-12). He won the NCAA Division I Individual singles title and was the NCAA’s top-ranked player in 2011 and 2012. He finished his career at USC with 72 consecutive wins. Johnson was the 2011 and 2012 ITA Player of the Year and Pac-12 Player of the Year, and he was named to the 2009, 2010 and 2012 Pac-12 Doubles Team of the Year.
Past Ojai champion and Rolling Hills resident Tracy Austin will also be on hand for The Ojai’s annual fundraising dinner on Friday, April 26, at The Ojai Vineyard Tasting Room (109 South Montgomery Street, Ojai 93023), located next to the tournament’s headquarters, Libbey Park, in downtown Ojai (Price: $130; Music: Dianne Miller Band). For tickets, visit www.TheOjai.net or click HERE.
History: Founded in 1896 by William Thacher, The Ojai is one of North America’s longest running and largest tennis tournaments. Many tennis greats played The Ojai, including Bill Tilden, Helen Wills Moody, Tony Trabert, Bobby Riggs, Jack Kramer, Stan Smith, Arthur Ashe, Billie Jean King, Pancho Gonzales, Jimmy Connors, Michael Chang, Lindsay Davenport, Pete Sampras and Mike and Bob Bryan. In total, 87 players who have competed at The Ojai have gone on to win Grand Slam tennis tournaments, and their names appear on the Wall of Fame in Ojai’s Libbey Park. The Ojai annual traditions include freshly-squeezed orange juice in the mornings and afternoon tea service for all spectators and participants.
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