Five Vero Beach junior tennis players and two players who have reached the third round of Grand Slam tournaments highlight a tournament record 133 entries in to the qualifying tournament for the $10,000 USTA Vero Beach Futures event, the Mardy Fish Children’s Foundation Tennis Championships.
The 128-players will compete in the qualifying tournament that begins at 9 am Friday morning at The Boulevard Tennis Club with the day’s play expected to go for approximately12 hours for the 64 first round matches. The 128-player qualifying draw will be played to determine eight qualifiers who will be placed into the 32-player main draw that begins Tuesday.
Vero Beach High School seniors Eric Zwemer and Erik Olliges received wild card entries into the qualifying tournament along with Vero Beach residents Alexander Hepburn and Drew Bochte. Vero Beach’s Trevor Quenan was a direct entry into the field. Bochte lives in The Boulevard real estate complex, just yards from where the tournament is staged.
Evgeny Koralev from Russia, who was ranked at one time No. 46, is also in the 128-player qualifying field He reached the third round of the 2000 Australian Open where he beat current top 10 player Tomas Berdych before losing in five sets to 2008 Olympic silver medalist Fernando Gonzalez. Koralev reached one ATP singles final in his career in Delray Beach, Fla., in 2009 where he lost to …. Mardy Fish. Also in the qualifying tournament is Christian Vinck of Germany, who qualified for Wimbledon in 2000 and defeated future Olympic gold medalist Nicolas Massu in the first round, Harel Levy of Israel in the second round before falling to No. 9 seed Thomas Enqvist of Sweden in the third round in five sets. Vinck, now age 40, has a distinct story in the history of tennis as he defeated Andre Agassi in the final of the 1997 Las Vegas Challenger, the event that started Agassi’s comeback from being ranked No. 144 in the world to eventually rank No. 1 again in 1999.
The full qualifying draw can be seen here: https://assets-ssl.usta.com/assets/1/15/qualifying_draw515.PDF
The order of play for Friday can be seen here: https://assets-ssl.usta.com/assets/1/15/schedule520.PDF
Tickets for the qualifying rounds of the Mardy Fish Children’s Foundation Tennis Championships from April 22 – April 25 will cost $10 and are available for sale at the club entrance. Tickets for the main draw of singles and doubles from April 26 – May 1 will be $20. Season tickets that include both the qualifying and main draw events cost $100. Advance tickets can be purchased at www.VeroBeachTennisTickets.com. Admission for children 18 and under is free. Fans can follow news and developments on the tournament on Facebook and on Twitter at @VeroFutures and by going to the website www.TennisVeroBeach.com.
Tournament match start times are as follows:
9 am Friday, April 22 (Qualifying Rounds Starting)
9 am Saturday, April 23 (Qualifying Rounds)
10 am Sunday, April 24 (Qualifying Rounds
11 am Monday, April 25 (Qualifying Rounds End)
10 am Tuesday, April 26 Not before 6 pm Night Match (Main Draw Starts)
10 am Wednesday, April 27, Not before 6 pm Night Match (Main Draw)
10 am Thursday, April 28, Not before 6 pm Night Match (Main Draw)
10 am Friday, April 29 Not before 6 pm Night Match (2nd Doubles Semifinal)
1 pm, 3 pm Saturday, April 30, Singles semifinals
11 am Sunday, May 1 (likely doubles championship match first, followed by singles championship match at 1 pm, depending on if a player is competing in both finals)
Starting in 2016, the Mardy Fish Children’s Foundation is the new operator of the $10,000 “Futures” tennis tournament in Vero Beach, one of the longest-running and best attended events on the U.S. Tennis Association Pro Circuit. The tournament, now called The Mardy Fish Children’s Foundation Tennis Championships, benefits the Mardy Fish Children’s Foundation, the non-profit tennis foundation benefiting children, named for Vero Beach native son Mardy Fish, a former top 10 tennis star, U.S. Davis Cup hero and silver medalist at the 2004 Olympic Games. The event was managed for 20 years by Vero Beach tennis teaching professional Mike Rahaley, who made the annual Vero Beach stop one of the crown jewels on the USTA Pro Circuit. The 2016 tournament will be held April 22 through May 1 at The Boulevard Tennis Club.
Founded in 2007, the Mardy Fish Children’s Foundation (www.MardyFishFoundation.com and @MardyFishFound on Twitter) currently supports over 2,100 children in 15 elementary schools and six middle schools in Indian River County, Florida by providing after-school exercise, nutritional and enrichment programs in a safe environment to prepare them for healthy, productive and successful lives. The Foundation introduced the “Six Healthy Habits” in 2012 which are Get Sleep; Drink Water; Exercise Daily, Eat Healthy; Brush and Floss; Make Friends.” Mardy Fish recently completed his ATP professional tennis career at the 2015 U.S. Open, highlighted by a career-high ranking of No. 7, six ATP singles titles, eight ATP doubles titles and an Olympic silver medal in singles at the 2004 Olympics. He reached the quarterfinals at the Australian Open, Wimbledon and the U.S. Open and was a mainstay on the U.S. Davis Cup team from 2002 to 2012.
Some of the past competitors in Vero Beach have gone on to succeed at the highest levels of professional tennis, winning major singles and doubles titles, Olympic medals and Davis Cup championships and earning No. 1 world rankings. Andy Roddick, the 2003 U.S. Open champion who attained the world No. 1 ranking and helped the United States win the Davis Cup in 2007 competed in Vero Beach in 1999. Thomas Johansson of Sweden, who reached the second round of the Vero Beach Futures in 1995, won the Australian Open seven years later in 2002. Nicolas Massu, the 1998 singles runner-up in Vero Beach, won the singles and doubles gold medals at the 2004 Olympic Games in Athens, Greece, beating Fish in the gold medal singles match. Kyle Edmund, the 2013 champion in Vero Beach, helped Great Britain to the Davis Cup title in 2015. Other notable former competitors in Vero Beach include former world No. 2 Magnus Norman, former world No. 4 Tim Henman, 2016 Australian Open semifinalist Milos Raonic among others. Former Vero Beach competitors have combined to win 19 titles in singles, doubles and mixed doubles at Grand Slam tournaments. Six former Vero Beach players have gone on to play Davis Cup for the United States – Roddick, Fish, Taylor Dent, Jared Palmer, Donald Young and Ryan Harrison.