Dust off your racquets and tennis balls: The largest free tennis event in Western Canada is returning to Surrey for a second run this September.
The Fraser Heights Open Tennis Tournament is set for every evening of Sept. 8 to 29, from 6 to 10 p.m. at the courts by the recreation centre at 10588 160th St.
Last year, 112 players – from preteens to seniors in their 70s – came out to rally. Many were locals from the Fraser Heights area, but more than half came from as far as New Westminster, Burnaby, Langley and Delta.
Fraser Heights resident Stan Kajzerek, 48, recalled dreaming up the tournament while sitting on a bench at the tennis courts in the spring of 2012.
“I was talking to a friend of mine and thought, you know, we’ve never played in a tennis tournament before, so why not organize one?”
Kajzerek said he contacted a number of tennis groups and found there was a fee to organize a tournament where participants would get ranking points. However, hosting a non-ranking tournament would be free of fees and any rules or restrictions that follow Tennis B.C. protocols.
“We decided, as always, to make something different, and so my personality comes out – I like different, different is good. We decided to go ahead with a free tournament,” Kajzerek said.
But still, there were difficulties getting the tournament. Being on two outdoor courts acquired with thanks to the City of Surrey’s parks and recreation department, matches will be weather-dependent with flexibility to reschedule. Each match will last up to an hour and eight matches will take place each evening. Players will be sorted into tiers by age, gender and skill level.
A YouTube channel will show the first five minutes of every match. With this, players will be able to go back and not only review how they performed, but “actually study their potential opponent,” said Kajzerek.
Michael Brzezinski, 19, took first place in the singles category last year and cites his matchpoint win as his most memorable moment from the tournament.
“I wait the whole year for this,” he said.
His sister, Isabella, 17, took second place in the singles category last year, and despite losing “quite badly” against the girl who came out on top, she said it was still fun.
“We’ve played in tournaments before, but this one’s the best one. It’s competitive, but it’s also really fun.”
In the future, Kajzerek envisions his tournament becoming a signature event. He even has a name prepared: Fraser Heights Tennis Open - West Coast.
The tournament is aiming to fundraise $10,000, with half that amount for Surrey Food Bank and the other half for Surrey Memorial Hospital Foundation.
Registration to play is open online (www. fhtennis.ca) until Sept. 1. An opening ceremony will take place on Sept. 8 starting at 5 p.m.
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