Tennis players from Oregon, Washington, California, Montana and Florida are competing in the Umpqua Valley Open Tennis Championships in Roseburg this weekend.
“We have quite a few coming from Florida and quite a few from California and a good handful from the Seattle area,” Umpqua Valley Tennis Center director Eric Quiroz said. “There are some Oregon players too — Corvallis, Albany, Eugene and some local people.”
A total of 71 people signed up to compete in the 56th annual tennis tournament, which got under way Thursday and culminates in championship matches Sunday.
“It’s getting some momentum again,” Quiroz said. “We keep the prize money very competitive, we outdo a few other tournaments, so we’re able to attract some other players and that feeds into itself.”
The winner of the tournament’s mens open division will earn $2,000 and the runner-up $1,000.
Oren Motevassel won the tournament two years ago and hopes to make an impact again this year.
“I hope to win, but it’d be nice to do well,” Motevassel said. “It’s part of this tour that I take time off for in the summer and it’s convenient. You don’t have to fly anywhere, you can just drive your car and play all summer long.”
Motevassel is the number two seed at the tournament, behind last year’s winner Kyle McMorrow from Olympia, Wash.
Devin Nerenberg, Charlie Cutler, Jonathan Endrikat, Brett Van Linge, Ross Nigra and Matthew Pronesti are the other top seeded players in the tournament.
Central Point No. 5 seed Endrikat was eliminated after losing the first round to Danny Riggs of Pompano Beach, Florida, in the only upset Friday.
Motevassel started his trip from his home in San Jose, California, to compete at a tournament in Medford last weekend and after the Roseburg tourney he, and several other tennis players, will head north to compete in tournaments in Eugene, Portland, Tacoma, Seattle and British Colombia.
“I’ve played in this tournament for 20 years, and I’ve played almost every single tournament in the entire northwest, and this tournament has always been my favorite,” Quiroz said. “We work really hard with the volunteers to make (the players) feel welcome. We give them a dinner, a barbecue, a pro-am. It’s a very player-friendly event.”
This year the tournament is also back to hosting a women’s draw.
“(A women’s bracket) to us is a huge success because most tournaments can’t fill the draw,” Quiroz said. “We didn’t get women’s doubles but that’s our next step.”
One of the women signed up for the tournament is Umpqua Valley Tennis Center instructor Shelby Roth, but she’s facing some tough competition.
“We’ve got the number five best women’s college player here (Maci Epstein from Windermere, Fla.),” Quiroz said. “She’s very good and we’ve got some of the former U of O tennis coaches that are very fine players themselves that are coming down from Eugene and play in our tournament. It’s some of the best tennis you’ll see in the Pacific Northwest.”
Maja Kovacek, assistant tennis coach at the University of Oregon, received the top seed in the women’s bracket while Epstein was second.
Despite the fact that the tournament does not have a women’s doubles draw it is hosting a “good” mixed doubles draw.
“We got a better draw this year, and it’s bigger, “Quiroz said. “More sponsors want to participate and the money that we raise goes back to help some of the programs that we do, for example the free youth programs and it helps us buy equipment. Not only do people want to compete for the money, but they realize that the players competing are also very good so a lot of them come for the competition.”
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