Sports

The only professional tennis tournament in SLO County is back for another year

Arroyo Grande graduate and current Gonzaga senior Sophie Whittle faced Great Britain’s Laura Robson in the second round of the Central Coast Pro Tennis Open in Templeton last year.
Arroyo Grande graduate and current Gonzaga senior Sophie Whittle faced Great Britain’s Laura Robson in the second round of the Central Coast Pro Tennis Open in Templeton last year. dmiddlecamp@thetribunenews.com

Two San Luis Obispo County tennis stars will again match up against the pros — including recent U.S. Open qualifier Madison Brengle – in the upcoming Central Coast Pro Tennis Open.

The second annual event at the Templeton Tennis Ranch is the county’s only professional tennis tournament; the $60,000 tournament, part of the USTA Pro Women’s Circuit, starts Sunday and runs through Sept. 30.

Former Arroyo Grande High School star Sophie Whittle turned heads last year during the inaugural Central Coast Open when she upset the tournament’s No. 3-seeded player in the first round after being granted a main-draw singles wild card by tournament officials.

Whittle, a senior member of the Gonzaga University tennis team, will look to better that result this year as organizers granted her a wild card once again for this year’s event. After her upset last year, the Nipomo resident lost in the second round to former Wimbledon Junior Girls’ winner Laura Robson.

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Great Britain’s Laura Robson returns shot to Sophie Whittle in the second round of the Central Coast Pro Tennis Open in Templeton last year. David Middlecamp dmiddlecamp@thetribunenews.com

Whittle will once again this year be joined in the main draw by Cal Poly freshman Delanie Dunkle, who like Whittle starred at nearby Arroyo Grande High.

Dunkle is a Tennis Recruiting.net 5-star recruit and is the daughter of San Luis Obispo Country Club Director of Tennis Bill Dunkle. Dunkle will play doubles with Alexandra Stevenson, the 38-year-old former world No. 17 who advanced to the 1999 Wimbledon semifinals and is the daughter of NBA Hall of Famer “Dr. J” Julius Erving.

“We are thrilled to have named our singles and doubles main-draw wild cards and really looking forward to having two local standouts like Sophie and Delanie return, as well as a former Wimbledon semifinalist and longtime veteran of the Pro Circuit in Alexandra Stevenson,” said Ralph Goehring, tournament chairman and host and TTR owner.

Also returning to the tournament will be Americans Taylor Townsend and Jamie Loeb.

The two faced off in a classic semifinal match last year, where the former NCAA singles champion Loeb pulled out a 6-4, 6-7 (7), 7-6 (8) win over the former world No. 1 junior player Townsend in a dramatic three-hour match.

A 22-year-old from Atlanta, Townsend is currently the highest seeded player in the draw and is ranked No. 64 in the WTA World Tour rankings. Like last year, she has been named a tournament wild card as a late entry and will be the No. 1 seed.

Townsend won both the singles and doubles Australian Open titles as a junior, and three of the four Grand Slam doubles events in 2012.

Recent US Open qualifier American Madison Brengle will be the No. 2-seeded player at the second-annual event that will award $9,119 to the singles winner, who will also receive 80 valuable WTA Tour rankings points. Currently ranked No. 105 in the world, Brengle qualified for the US Open a few weeks ago, losing to fellow American Sofia Kenin in the first round in a third-set tiebreak.

Others Americans in the main draw include: Lauren Davis, Ashley Kratzer, Grace Min, Asia Muhammad, Victoria Duval and Jessica Pegula, Maria Sanchez, Emina Bektas and Louisa Chirico.

The Central Coast Pro Tennis Open will attract more than 80 WTA players who are ranked from No. 100 to No. 350 in the world. The tournament will include a free Kid’s Day; social events; public clinics and a pro-am event.

For more information, visit ttrprotennis.com.

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