The eyes of the tennis world are on Ventura County, with a more than century-old tennis tournament that’s featured everyone from Arthur Ashe, and Jimmy Connors to Billie Jean King underway.
More than 1400 players are taking part in the 116th annual Ojai Valley Tennis Tournament, in an event so big that even private tennis courts are used as tournament venues.
Mark Weil chairs one of the tournament committees. Weil says over the decades, virtually every big name in U.S. tennis has played in the tournament, which is known as “The Ojai” for short.
Over the five day period from Wednesday through Sunday, players will spread out across more than 100 tennis courts in Ojai, Ventura, Oxnard, and Port Hueneme.
Steve Pratt, who is with the tournament, says it’s so large even private tennis courts are pressed into service.
The tournament’s roots go back to the late 1800’s, when a family that founded a private school in the Ojai Valley brought tennis to the community.
The tournament is unusual in that it has no paid staff. It’s run by a non-profit organization called the Ojai Valley Tennis Club, with a core committee which oversees more than 500 volunteers.
One of the highlights of the tournament is the fact that it serves as the PAC-12 conference championships in the men’s and women’s divisions, bringing some of the best college players in the nation to Ojai.
Many of the PAC-12 semifinals and finals matches from Ojai’s Libby Park will be televised. But, the wall-to-wall competition and numerous venues make the five day long event a tennis fan’s dream to attend.
It will be a huge weekend for the city of Ojai as a result of the tournament.
It has 8,000 residents, but they will be literally outnumbered by an expected crowd of 10,000 ranging from players to fans.
Tickets are required for the big matches in Libby Park, the Ojai Valley Inn, and at the Ojai Valley Athletic Club.
Tickets to 2016 Ojai Valley Tennis Tournament can be found on their website.