Panorama serves up the world

International women’s tennis tournament set for June 14 to 21

Eric Knoester

Panorama Recreation has upped its game and will be hosting an ITF women’s professional tennis tournament June 14 to 21.

Having successfully hosted an international junior tournament last year, Tennis Canada in partnership with Tennis B.C. and the South Island Tennis Association named Panaorama the host of the Freedom 55 Financial Women’s ITF Tennis Tournament. Eric Knoester, Panorama’s director of racquet sports, says this will be the first time since 2001 an ITF event has come to Greater Victoria — and the first one in western Canada since 2007.

“It’s a coup for Panorama,” he said. “And it’s a chance for our players to see a higher level of tennis.”

By May 29, Knoester said organizers will know which of the women’s tennis players, ranked between 1,500 and 250th in the world, will be registered for the tournament.

With a $10,000 purse, Knoester said the tournament will attract up-and-comers in the women’s professional ranks, largely from North America.

He added the event could draw players from around the world.

“It will give our local tennis players the chance to compete against others from around the world, Knoester said, adding Tennis Canada granted the organizers a wildcard spot for a Victoria-area player. That player will be announced later this this week.

Unranked players are expected to compete in the qualifying rounds, Knoester said. Judges, provided by Tennis Canada, will seed them accordingly. ITF-rated umpires and other officials are also being provided by Tennis Canada.

The tournament is part of an effort to increase the number of international tournaments hosted in Canada, Knoester said, helping expose Canadian athletes to better competition. He said two Canadian women, ranked in the 800-900 range, have already confirmed they’ll be at Panorama. Other ranked players coming to North Saanich won’t be announced until after the May 29 deadline.

People wishing to watch the action can do so for free at the tennis facility at Panorama. The tennis viewing area will be open to the public during the qualifying rounds, Knoester said. In the semis and finals, seating for around 300 will be provided court side.

Knoester said up to 30 volunteers from the local tennis community will be helping at the event. The Freedom 55 Financial Victoria Women’s ITF event is expected to draw up to 64 singles and doubles players from around the world.