The runner-up in 2016, American Raymond Sarmiento, is returning this year for the Kelowna Futures Tennis Tournament. -Image: Douglas Farrow/Contributor

Budding pros showcased at Kelowna Futures

Sixth annual tournament at Parkinson Rec Centre features $25,000 purse

Winning the Kelowna Futures Tennis Tournament in 2016 was a stepping stone to bigger and better things for Peter Polansky.

The 29-year-old Canadian has made appearances this year at both the French and Australian Opens and is now ranked 123rd in the world in men’s singles.

Polansky won’t be back in Kelowna this year, but dozens of other aspiring young pros will be here looking to follow in his footsteps.

The sixth edition of the Kelowna Futures Tennis Tournament, featuring $25,000 in prize money, kicks off Saturday with qualifications at the Parkinson Recreation Centre Courts and will wrap up with the finals on Sunday, July 2.

Among this year’s contenders will be Canadian Philip Bester who is currently ranked 182nd in the world. Last season, in men’s doubles, Bester and his partner knocked off Novak Jokovic, the fourth-ranked player in the world, at the ATP Masters in Toronto.

Tournament director Joachim Nierfeld says there’s a fine line between the players who will be competing in Kelowna and those who are right at the top of the sport.

“When you see Bester winning at that level over a player like (Jokovic), that tells you just how close these players are to each other,” said Nierfeld. “We have a very strong field again and people are going to see players who are on their way up.”

The majority of the players making their way to Kelowna this weekend are ranked between 200th and 800th in the world. American Raymond Sarmiento, who lost last year’s final to Polansky, will be in this year’s field.

Futures tournaments are a launching pad for pro players in their quest to compete in both ATP Tour and Grand Slam events.

In Kelowna, the main singles draw will feature 32 players, while the doubles draw will see 16 teams take to the court.

Nierfeld expects as many as 10 countries from around the world will be represented at the 2017 tournament.

One of the new features of this year’s tournament will be electronic score displays to help fans better follow the matches.

Tickets are available online at kelownafuturestennis.com or on site at the Parkinson Recreation Centre courts.

A tournament pass is $45, with single-day passes also available.

Nierfeld No. 1…

Tournament director and local pro Joachim Nierfeld has risen to the No. 1 ranking in Canada for men’s doubles in the 45 to 49 age group.

Earlier this month at Hollyburn in West Vancouver, the 47-year-old Nierfeld teamed up with Steven Kimoff to win the B.C. 45+ doubles title.

Nierfeld, who now has eight senior provincial doubles wins to his credit, will be the top seed at the senior outdoor nationals this August in Vancouver.