Players from Victoria, Sydney, Canberra and around the Riverina will converge on the Jim Elphick Tennis Centre this weekend as tournament action returns with a bang at the one-off City of Wagga Open.
After COVID claimed another Riverina Open this year - traditionally held on the October long weekend -efforts went in to securing a replacement event before the year was out.
Tournament director Matt Hort said the City of Wagga Open, running from Saturday through to Monday, is a suitable substitute after two disrupted years on the tennis calendar.
"We didn't name it the Riverina Open just to keep the tradition of that tournament on that weekend but we thought we could put forward something on the City of Wagga," Hort said.
"It won't go down as a year of that tournament running, so its 126-year history (of the Riverina Open) won't change."
Max Prest, 17, is the highest ranked local, seeded number four, in the men's draw.
"There's a few good names in the tournament from cities like Canberra, Sydney," Prest said.
"It'll be a strong tournament, it'll be good."
He'll team up with older brother Charlie for the doubles but, all things going well, they could face off in a singles semi-final.
"Hopefully. I reckon it'd be a bit of a grudge match. We've played a couple of times before," Prest said.
He declared Wagga's 10th seed Tom Gardiner a threat in the singles.
Gardiner, 21, is also looking forward to teaming up with his doubles partner, Dave Elliott, in a bid for further success together, having won a couple of club championships together.
Former Wagga student and rising star on the tennis circuit, Elijah Dikkenberg, will be another name closely watched.
After moving to Canberra this year, he'll be back at Bolton Park as a seeded player (14).
The top seed in the men's is Charlie Snow, leading a strong representation from the capital.
Serial women's Riverina Open champion Brenda Foster is expected to be a strong home representative again in the women's draw off the back of some recent success in Yarrawonga.
South coast young gun India Schreiber is the women's top seed.
Hort said there are close to 100 players registered and is pleased to be able to offer a strong tournament, with the sponsorship help of local businesses.
The opens events offer a total of $3000 in prizemoney, offering a lucrative return for competition-starved players from throughout the region.
The finals will be held on Monday.
Hort said it's a relief to be planning a tournament free of COVID threats.
"It's exciting that we havent had to worry about cancelling, there's been no talk of that which is a welcome change," he said.
"Once we picked up the tournament, it's been all systems go and we're glad people have supported it."
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