(last year's program cover)
Just a short fifteen minute jaunt down the beautiful highway from the Red Barn Happy House, in the last week of April each year, is the biggest and best tennis tournament in our area. The Ojai Tennis Tournament was founded by NCAA doubles champion William L. Thacher to promote amateur tennis in California—it's a wonderful and unique tradition dating back to the first event in 1896, and this year will be the 120th tournament played in our sweet little town—April 22-26, 2020! Shops, restaurants, hotels, and galleries in Ojai all welcome the large amount of tennis fans and tourists for the biggest four day event of the year. You don't want to miss it!
Over 600 volunteers from our community donate their time to help put on this historic tournament year after year, working a myriad of jobs such as ticket taking, court monitoring, security, hospitality, picking up and delivering lunches to the staff and referees, and even hosting the players in their own homes! This year marks my 11th year that I have
had the privilege of volunteering for The Ojai, working the last 7 or so as a part of the Marketing Team, which I absolutely love. You will find me all week long in the media building in Upper Libbey park, where most of the action happens.... or sometimes I'm grabbing a pic with some famous people like Red Foo, Rod Laver, or Elisabeth Shue. You never know who you will run into, it's quite amazing! I look forward to this week all year long, as it has become a sort of reunion week for me—an exciting and action-packed week full of great tennis, seeing old friends, and meeting new ones. What's not to love?
Did I say "action packed week of tennis?" Well, how's this for a lineup? The Ojai is filled with exciting events such as the Pac-12 playoffs, California Community College championships, DIII and Independent College championships, CIF matches, Junior matches, an Open Men's & Women's Single and Doubles events (with prize money), and even a Quick Start tournament for the little ones! The Ojai offers amazing matches that every tennis enthusiast would absolutely love to watch.
Our hometown darling, Tracy Austin—who won the Women's Open at The Ojai when she was 14!!—comes every year to enjoy the tournament and root her sons on as they play for USC and boys' CIF. As a bonus, you usually can catch her interviewing featured tennis greats such as Rod Laver, Stevie Johnson, Dick Gould, or even Stan Smith, or find her mingling around the beautiful courts chatting with various players and old friends. Tracy is an intelligent, down-to-earth, sweet woman who sits on the bleachers with the rest of the fans, rooting for her sons like any other mom does. ❤️
Two longstanding traditions of The Ojai are something everybody looks forward to during these four days— fresh orange juice provided by Friend's Ranch, Inc, in the morning, and the infamous Tea Tent, providing silver service in china tea cups complete with cookies, in the afternoon.
Did I mention that it's free? Yes, free! And there's more! Thursday nights the whole town comes out for a delicious BBQ dinner in upper Libbey park, served up especially for everyone by the Ojai Rotary Club. This dinner, too is FREE. Want more information on the tournament? Check out the website here: TheOjai.net. (Cool URL, right?)
Wait... how about out these tournament facts?
More than 1,500 players compete each year at The Ojai
112 tennis courts are used in the Ojai Valley, and the cities of Ventura, Oxnard, and Port Hueneme
$120,000 total tournament expenses
On average, about $84,000 donations are received from major sponsors
About $4,000 in donations are received from local small merchants
$17,000 net proceeds are contributed to youth tennis programs
$35,000 net proceeds are contributed to improving public tennis facilities
20 cases of Pixie tangerines are served to those playing outside of Ojai Valley
More than a ton of oranges are used for the orange juice served at Libbey Park in Ojai