Top pros will compete here in McLeod for Health Tennis Tournament
The McLeod for Health Florence Open, the area’s only professional tennis tournament, will be held at the Dr. Eddie Floyd Florence Tennis Center Oct. 18-25. The week-long USTA Pro Circuit women’s event, now in its fourth year, draws some of the best young professional players from around the world to compete for $25,000 in prize money and higher rankings. Catherine “CiCi” Bellis will be back this year to defend her Florence Open title.
The hard hitting and highly personable Bellis, now 16, was a huge fan sensation at last year’s tournament as she cut her way through the opposition to win the singles championship. Bellis, who is having another good year on the Pro Circuit, won the $25,000 Rancho Santa Fe tournament in her home state of California in February.
Other top tier stars coming to Florence include 26 year-old Romana Oprandi, who has played for both Italy and Switzerland and has been ranked as high as 32 in the world in singles, 25 year-old Romanian born Israeli Julia Glushko, who has ranked as high as 79, and 20 year-old American Sachia Vickery, who has ranked as high as 108 and is considered one of this country’s best hopes for the future.
Others to watch this year include Russian teen Sofia Zhuk, who a few months ago won the Juniors singles crown at Wimbledon without dropping a set, and Canadian Sharon Fichman, who has won 9 Pro Circuit titles in singles and 17 in doubles, as well as Slovenians Petra Rampre and Nastja Kolar and American Bernada Pena.
All three did well in last’s year’s Florence event. Again this year the tournament’s primary sponsor will be McLeod Health and its net profits will go to Komen Lowcountry to help in the fight against breast cancer.
Komen Lowcountry serves a 17-county region that includes Florence and the rest of the Pee Dee counties and provides generous annual grants to McLeod Health to support mammograms, follow-up diagnostic procedures, patient navigation services, and survivor support services, including transportation and child care. With approximately 90 tournaments held annually throughout the country, the U.S. Tennis Association Pro Circuit is the pathway to the US Open and tour-level competition for aspiring tennis players and a frequent battleground for established professionals.
The Florence Open will feature a 64-draw qualifying round, a 32-draw main round and a pro-am event. There will be a feature match every evening Tuesday through Friday. The singles semifinals are scheduled for Saturday the 24th and the doubles and singles finals will be held on Sunday the 25th.
The week will also feature opening and closing ceremonies, a pro-am tournament, and an evening set aside to honor sponsors and cancer survivors. Admission will be free, but attendees will be offered the opportunity to donate directly to Komen Lowcountry.