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World's top male tennis players to compete in first San Diego Open tournament

Felix Auger-Aliasimme of Canada is shown in this undated photo. Auger-Aliasimme was a U.S. Open semi-finalist and is presently ranked 11th in the world.
Association of Tennis Professionals
Felix Auger-Aliasimme of Canada is shown in this undated photo. Auger-Aliasimme was a U.S. Open semi-finalist and is presently ranked 11th in the world.

The biggest professional tennis tournament in San Diego history is being served up next week. Some top-ranked international and local players are slated to be on the courts for the first San Diego Open when the tournament starts on Monday at the Barnes Tennis Center in Point Loma.

This the first ever Association of Tennis Professionals (ATP) men’s tournament in San Diego and will feature a 28-player singles draw and a 16-team doubles draw. A total of $600,000 in prize money is up for grabs. The tournament finals are slated for Sunday, Oct. 3.

Some of the top players in the draw include Andrey Rublev, currently the No. 5 player in the world; Casper Ruud, No. 10 and Denis Shapovalov, No. 12. Also in the draw is U.S. Open semi-finalist Felix Auger-Aliasimme, currently No. 11 in the world.

Andrey Rublev of Russia is shown in this undated photo. Rublev is currently the No. 5 player in the world and is slated to play in the San Diego Open.
Association of Tennis Professionals
Andrey Rublev of Russia is shown in this undated photo. Rublev is currently the No. 5 player in the world and is slated to play in the San Diego Open.

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But they’re not the main attraction.

“The big one is Andy Murray,” said Barnes Tennis Center General Manager and San Diego Open Tournament Director Ryan Redondo. “Everybody is really excited about Andy — multi-grand slam champion, gold medalist — so we’re really looking forward to having him here.”

Local professional players include Torrey Pines High School’s Taylor Fritz, No. 39, and Rancho Santa Fe High Bluff Academy graduate Brandon Nakashima, presently ranked No. 85.

Nakashima says he’s happy to be home and is looking forward to sleeping in his own bed for a change.

“It’s such a good feeling coming back home and being able to play in a professional tournament by where I grew up and where I trained as a junior. It’s really cool to see and it’s going to be great to have all my family and friends come out and support,” Nakashima said.

Tournament co-chair Jack McGrory, an avid tennis player, explained how the ATP finally selected San Diego to host an ATP tournament.

“When the Chinese part of the (ATP) tour got cancelled because of the pandemic, they called us and said, ‘Would you please host an ATP tournament, so we can keep the players working and earning prize money,” McGrory said.

It was an opportunity the local tennis community did not want to miss.

“For the sports community and San Diego, it’s a big deal,” McGrory said.

It’s also a big deal for the Barnes Tennis Center.

The club had just five weeks to organize and prepare for the tournament.

Brandon Nakashima, a graduate of High Bluff Academy in Rancho Santa Fe, is seen in this undated photo. He is presently ranked 85th.
Association of Tennis Professionals
Brandon Nakashima, a graduate of High Bluff Academy in Rancho Santa Fe, is seen in this undated photo. He is presently ranked 85th.

“The courts, the weather, there’s not one bad seat in this facility, so it’s just going to be awesome,” tournament director Redondo said. “This center court holds 2,000 people, our second court will hold about 400, so we have a lot of people that can come through.”

“You’re going to have great food, a great atmosphere, music, merchandise to buy, concessions and great weather,” Redondo said.

Redondo said the ATP granted several one-year licenses to tournaments, “and we were so fortunate to get one of those.”

The Barnes Tennis Centers is owned and operated by Youth Tennis San Diego and is dedicated to promoting the development of youth through organized tennis. Clinics for kids are scheduled throughout the tournament and many of the young athletes will be sitting in the stands or serving as ball girls and boys.

“This is just going to inspire, motivate our youth. For the tennis community to be able to have players just feet away, right in front of you to play. I think it’s going to be a huge experience and just promote the game of tennis and our city,” Redondo said.

Redondo said the tournament will help the local economy too. Hundreds of jobs were created to put on a tournament of this size, from construction to concessions. Plus hundreds of volunteers are needed to help this tournament run smoothly.

“Hundreds of thousands of dollars are going to go into the city just by bringing this one week tournament in, so it’s a huge boost for the city. It’s a huge boost for Point Loma, Ocean Beach, Downtown. It’s so positive for the city,” said Redondo.

The tournament will feature two sessions each day. The day session starts at 11:30 am and a night session starts at 5:30 pm.

Free shuttles are being provided from Liberty Station to the Barnes Tennis Center for both the day and night sessions. Masks are required on the shuttle, but not at the venue.

Qualifying matches for the tournament will be held at the Barnes Tennis Center this Saturday and Sunday.