More money, higher profile for Kelowna tourney

Kelowna Futures Tennis Tournament features $25,000 in prizes as top professionals look to get to ATP circuit.

American Conor Berg competes in qualifying action Sunday at the Kelowna Futures Tennis Tournament.

Featuring the biggest purse yet in the five-history of the event, the ITF Kelowna Futures Tennis Tournament is taking centre stage this week at the Parkinson Rec Centre courts.

Many of the game’s up-and-coming players, from countries around the world, are pursuing valuable ranking points and $25,000 (US) in prizes.

That’s up $10,000 from last year’s tournament, a positive sign that the Kelowna event—a stepping stone to the ATP Tour—continues to evolve.

“It’s more money for the players, so that’s great, it helps them cover the costs of getting to  more tournaments,” said tournament director Joachim Nierfeld. “Tennis Canada came in and decided they were going to pick a few high standard events, like the one in Kelowna, and support us even more, so we’re happy about that. This tournament is on pace to grow even more in the future.”

The field will be highlighted by North York’s Peter Polansky, the 154th-ranked player in the world. Polansky, 28, is fresh off his singles title win on Sunday at the Richmond Futures Tournament.

“He’s been a Davis Cup player for Canada for many years and he’s been knocking at the door of making a breakthrough several times,” Nierfeld said of Polansky. “He qualified this year at Indians Wells, which is a big tournament, and won in Richmond, so he’s coming here playing well.”

Also expected to contend is Australia Ben Mitchell, the 240th ranked player, who won the Kelowna tournament two years ago.

Others to watch include Canada’s Phillip Bester (182nd) and Filip Peliwo (422nd).

Polansky, Bester and Peliwo are all members of Canada’s Davis Cup team.

Improvements to this year’s event include the resurfacing of the courts by the City of Kelowna three weeks ago, which Nierfeld said makes for “longer rallies and better action for spectators.”

There is also a set of bleachers in the shade at court side for spectators to use during what is expected to be a hot and sunny week of weather in Kelowna.

The tournament began with qualifying on Saturday and will run all week at Parkinson, with play from 10 a.m. until 8 p.m. today and Thursday.

Friday will feature four singles matches and row doubles final beginning at 10 a.m.

Singles semifinals go Saturday at 1 p.m., with the championship match set for 1 p.m. Sunday.

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