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Tennis' Rising Stars To Shine At Auburn Tourney

June 13, 2005 11:12 AM

By: Andrew DiLuccia, Journal Assistant Sports Editor, Auburn Journal

Tennis fans once again get a chance to see tomorrow's tennis stars today as the Auburn Racquet and Fitness Club plays host to the Vintage Developers/Make-A-Wish Pro Circuit Tennis Tournament starting this morning.

ATP (Association of Tennis Professionals) Tour stars such as Jim Courier, Pete Sampras, Gustavo Kuerten, LLeyton Hewitt and Andre Agassi are just a few of the big-time tennis names that have graced the United State Tennis Association's (USTA) Pro Circuit tour on their way to fame and fortune.

Many of the players in this Futures tournament are already world-class talents, as many have played in some of the prestigious grand slam events around the world and are working their way up the rankings to get invited to the main draws of bigger events.

Agassi, who at one point was ranked 141 in the world, returned to the Pro Circuit to up his ranking and get back into form. Last year's champion of the Auburn tournament, Amer Delic, made it to the second round of the U.S. Open last season, losing to Carlos Moya, who's currently ranked No. 19 in the world, in a four-set match. Delic is currently ranked 143 in the world.

This year's field will be just as challenging as the last three that have been at the Auburn Racquet and Fitness Club. Cecil Mamiit of Los Angeles will be the player to beat this week in the 32-player main draw as he's coming off his eighth singles title victory when he won the $50,000 Sunset Molding Yuba City Racquet Club Challenger last week. Mamiit was ranked in the top 35 in the world just a few years ago; he's currently ranked 228.

"We've got a strong field in the main draw, the tennis is going to be absolutely fantastic," tournament directory Monty Basnyat said. "We encourage the public to come out and watch and participate."

Besides an international field that features players from countries such as Australia, Mexico, Korea, Japan and Russia, there will be some local flavor as well with Stanford standout Sam Warburg representing Sacramento.

To keep up with the high-quality talent on the court, the staff at the club and the organizers of the tournament have stepped up off of it to give the tournament a more professional feel.

"The tournament is shaping up as far as fundraising and a lot of the details, it's shaping up beautifully," Basnyat said. "Everything is coming together."

Some new wrinkles in this year's event include the title sponsors, Vintage Developers - a locally owned company out of Rocklin - and Make-A-Wish. One hundred percent of the proceeds from the event will go to the Make-A-Wish foundation to help one local-area child's wish come true.

The purse has also grown from $10,000 last year to $15,000 this year, still keeping the tournament in the Futures category. Events with prize money over the $15,000 mark are then called Challenger tournaments, like the one in Yuba City.

"It would be nice to keep going up the ladder," tournament media relations representative Shari Byers said about the increasing purse.

Besides more purse money, there will be box seats available and canopies and other amenities made accessible to the public. But maybe the biggest change this year, is that the tournament is not the same week of the Western State Endurance run - giving the Pro Circuit event the community's entire focus.

Along with action on the court there will be some off it.

Today, besides the main draw getting under way, there will be a kids' tennis carnival from 11 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. with a lunch to follow. On Friday the Make-A-Wish Dinner will take place and will be open to the public. The cost is $50 per person and $25 for those under 18. Kids 12 and under will be free. There will be dancing and an auction at the dinner.

Ticket prices are $10 for a day pass, $15 for a weekend pass and $20 for a weeklong pass. Kids 12-and-under are free.

For more information on the tournament, visit www.makeawishprocircuit.com or contact Basnyat at (916) 316-7577.




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