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VALLEY / VENTURA COUNTY SPORTS | OJAI VALLEY TOURNAMENT

What

April 22, 1999|STEVE HENSON and LAUREN PETERSON

The Ojai Valley Tennis Tournament includes some 1,600 players in 38 events participating in age-group, high school, college, and open competition. The tournament plays host to the Pacific-10 Conference individual championships, the Big West Conference championships and the NCAA Division III West Regional.

WHY

* The tournament is in its 99th year and was started in 1896 by William Thacher. There have been five years when the tournament was not played. An outbreak of hoof-and-mouth disease stopped the event in 1924, and it was not played from 1943-1946 because of World War II.

WHEN

* The Big West Conference women's tournament started Wednesday and will end Saturday. The other competitions open today. The age-group, high school and junior college competitions end Saturday. The open divisions and the Pac-10 and Division III tournaments conclude Sunday. Play is scheduled to run from roughly 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. each day.

WHERE

* Some 150 courts in Ojai, Ventura, Oxnard, Port Hueneme and Camarillo will be used during the tournament. The primary site for semifinal and final rounds will be Libbey Park in downtown Ojai. Other sites include the Ojai Valley Athletic Club, the Ojai Valley Inn Tennis Center, Soule Park in Ojai, the Pierpont Racquet Club in Ventura, the Oxnard Tennis Center, Moranda Park in Port Hueneme, Ventura College, Las Posas Tennis Center and Spanish Hills Country Club in Camarillo, various high schools in the Ojai and Ventura areas, and on more than 30 courts at private residences in Ojai.

WHO

* The Pac-10 championships will include Stanford's Marissa Irvin from Harvard-Westlake High, UCLA's Jason Cook from Calabasas, Washington's Zuzana Stunova from Rio Mesa and Arizona's Monique Allegre from Camarillo.

The Big West championships will include Cal Poly San Luis Obispo's Erin Carroll from Ventura.

Kaarin Benson and Bianca Dochtorowicz of Cal Lutheran will play in the NCAA Division III individual tournament in singles. Each will also play doubles, Benson with Heather Szabo, and Dochtorowicz with Jill Embree.

The age-group events will include Matthew Michaels, Stephen Amritraj, Lester Cook IV and Kinsley Carnahan of Calabasas, Justin Montgomery of Oxnard, Andrew Lieu of Thousand Oaks, Travis Rettenmaier, Adrian Mardyks and Lauren Gaona of Camarillo, Jamin Dao of Northridge, Alyson Tyson of Agoura Hills, Georgette Wright of Burbank, Gladys Preciado of Sylmar, Nina Yaftali of Westlake Village, Samantha Hammond of Thousand Oaks, Erica Sauer of Somis, Yasmin Fisher of Ventura, Mindy Gondrez of Simi Valley and Jieun Jacobs of Valencia.

The high school competition will include Mike Mancini of Camarillo, Mike Marquez of St. Bonaventure, Erik Janson, Mike Horak and Alex Yaftali of Westlake, Philip Sheng of Thousand Oaks, Khai Nguyen of Rio Mesa, Nick Weiss of Calabasas and Prakash Amritraj, Andrew Rosenfeld and David Frankel of Harvard-Westlake.

FAST FACTS

* "The Ojai" is the oldest amateur tennis tournament in the U.S. The 30-member Ojai Valley Tennis Club spearheads an army of approximately 600 volunteers who run the tournament each year.

* No prize money is awarded. Players compete strictly for USTA ranking purposes and for the right to have their names included on perpetual trophies in each division.

* While Wimbledon serves up strawberries and cream with its tennis, complimentary orange juice is offered in the mornings and tea and cookies are served in the afternoons at Ojai.

* Several champions cut their teeth at Ojai, including Bill Tilden, Arthur Ashe, Helen Wills Moody and Billie Jean King. Tennis greats Don Budge, Jack Kramer, Pancho Gonzalez, Tony Trabert, Stan Smith and Jimmy Connors played at Ojai at one time or another, as did Maureen Connelly, Tracy Austin and Lindsay Davenport.

TICKETS

* Admission on Thursday and Friday: adults $6, seniors and students $4. Saturday and Sunday: adults $10, seniors and students $8. Children under 10: $1 each day.

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