Special kids-play-free day set for Sept. 26, featuring Buddy the Ball
Singles qualifying begins Friday at the Costa Mesa Tennis Center, as The United States Tennis Association’s Pro Circuit returns to Costa Mesa.Part of the developmental tour of the USTA, the free event is an opportunity to see the future of professional tennis today.
Qualifying begins at 9 a.m., with 128 players competing for the last 14 slots in the 32-person main draw, which begins Tuesday, Sept. 22.
Eighteen of the 32 main draw slots have been announced for the $10,000 event. Liam Broady, from Great Britain, is the highest-ranked seed, currently ranked 165th in the world. Six Americans are among the other 17 main drawn confirmations, including Marcos Giron, of Thousand Oaks, formerly of UCLA (ranked 396th), Jean-Yves Aubone (520), Ernest Escobedo (533), of West Covina, who lost in the finals of the Costa Mesa event in 2013 and has advanced to four quarter-finals this year, Wil Spencer (560), Evan Song (579) and former UCLA standout Clay Thompson, (599).
Giron, who won the NCAA singles title in 2014, has a history with the Costa Mesa Pro Classic, finishing in the semi-finals of the singles in 2013, while claiming the doubles titles with fellow Bruin Mackenzie McDonald, the same year. Mcdonald, of Irvine, is a qualifier for this year’s Costa Mesa Pro Classic.
The first wildcard event, which began Aug. 22, was won by Australian Ryan Agar. A wild card shootout was held Sept. 17, beginning at 11AM at Costa Mesa Tennis Center.
While professionals will be battling all week, kids will also get the
opportunity to play in a Nickelodeon 10-and-under Play Day on Sept. 26. The event, which will run 1:30 to 3 p.m.., is free. That is also semi-final Saturday for the men’s singles, which begin at 10 a.m.
This year’s play day will be graced by tennis’ latest ambassador, Buddy the Ball, the brainchild of professional tennis player Brandon Christopher, who has created a character that educates and inspires kids to play tennis, but also serves as a positive role model. Buddy the Ball is the main character in a series of books, and has his own merchandise line.
It’s just a very fun and dynamic way to get kids excited about the game of tennis,” said Hank Lloyd, the Costa Mesa Pro Classic tournament director. “The future of the game is in kids, and the USTA is aware of that, and this is a novel way to help spike their interest even more.”
For more information on the Buddy the Ball Program, visit www.tenniswithbuddy.com.
The Costa Mesa Tennis Center, a year-round tennis center that offers instruction and practice, is located at 880 Juniper Dr., Costa Mesa, (714) 557-0211.
A Facebook page about the event can be found by typing in Costa Mesa Pro Classic or visiting, https://www.facebook.com/events/161913780599117/