In 2016, Canadian Peter Polansky won the men’s singles title Kelowna Futures Tennis Tournament.
Two years later, the 30-year-old from Toronto is knocking on the door of becoming one of top 100 players in the world.
Polansky, who played in this year’s French Open, won’t be back in Kelowna this summer, but dozens of aspiring players will be here trying to follow in his footsteps.
The seventh edition of the Kelowna Futures Tennis Tournament, featuring no fewer than eight players ranked between No. 300 and No. 800 in the world, begins Saturday with qualifying at the Parkinson Rec Centre.
Futures events serve as a launching pad for players looking to make the step up to ATP and Grand Slam events.
Joachim Nierfeld, the director for the Kelowna tournament, said there’s fine line between the top players in the sport and the ones fans will see over the course of a week at the Parkinson courts.
“It’s world-class, top-calibre tennis,” said Nierfeld. “You have players here ranked in the top 300, you compare that to about 700 players who are in the NHL, and that gives you an idea of the quality of athlete we have.”
Among the highest-ranked players appearing in Kelowna is Canadian Steven Diez, currently ranked 318th in the world. The 27-year-old Davis Cup player from Toronto has been ranked as high as 162.
The field, with players from 10 different nations pursuing $25,000 in prize money, also features American JC Aragone, the 310th ranked player in the world.
One local player, teen Calvin Thalheimer, will appear in the tournament for the second straight year.
Last year’s tournament was the best attended of the six so far held in Kelowna, with more than 2,000 fans watching the action.
Nierfeld said the tournament should be even more fan-friendly this year as organizers will install shade above all the bleachers on the site.
Proceeds from the week-long event will be used to support grassroots tennis programs in Kelowna.
Qualifying will be held Saturday and Sunday, with the main draw set to begin on Monday. The singles draw will feature 32 players, with 16 teams on the doubles draw.
The singles semifinals are set for Saturday, June 30 at 1 and 3 p.m., with the final taking to the court on Sunday, July 1 at 1 p.m.
Also on site this year, offering food and beverages, will be Moxy’s.
The main tournament sponsors are Capri CMW Insurnace and Aviva Insurance.
For tickets, go to www.kelownafuturestennis.com or they can be bought on site at the Parkinson Recreation Centre tennis courts. Tournament passes are available for $45 or daily tickets can be purchase.
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