Quality fields lining up for Open
TOMORROW morning signals the beginning of the biggest tournament on the Coffs Coast's tennis calendar.
Into its 34th year, the Sawtell RSL Seaside Open at Sawtell Tennis Club has brought many of the country's best players to the clay courts and the tradition continues this week.
This Platinum AMT Event is one of the strongest tournaments in Australia apart from the Grand Slam, ATP and WTA events.
The tournament forms part of the Australian Money Tournament series allocated by Tennis Australia to regions that have a high-performing championship well established over many years.
Tournaments such as the Seaside Open give the best Australian players the funds to kick-start their tennis careers and gain valuable points towards their Australian rankings, as well as a chance to share in the $13,000 prizemoney available.
Lismore's Brendan Moore, who is ranked 22 in Australia and 620 in the world, is this year's top seed.
Moore returned home to Australia recently after competing on the ATP tour in Europe and Mexico.
He is hoping to win this week so he can put the winnings towards his next trip overseas to rejoin the ATP tour.
Moore will be partnering his younger brother Nathan in the hope of also taking the doubles title.
Chris O'Connell, who played recently in the Wimbledon junior tournament, is one of the players to watch.
The 17-year-old from Wakehurst is the sixth seed and is ranked fourth for his age group in Australia. This is the first time he has played the Seaside Open.
This year the women's singles has attracted a strong field, with the top 12 seeds all ranked within the top 100 in Australia.
The top three seeds have WTA world rankings.
Emelyn Starr, ranked 25th in Australia and 643rd in the world, is the top women's seed.
The 18 years boys' and girls' singles are Silver level national ranking events, which have drawn massive entries.
This gives local players a great chance to gain national points and improve their Australian ranking.
Local Sawtell players to watch include 15-year-old Rhys Johnston, who is the seventh seed in the 18 boys and who has dominated recent national points events in the 16 and under boys' events. Sixth seed Matt Allen is hoping for a repeat of last year's event, where he gained a large number of points towards his ranking.
Other local players to keep an eye out for in the lead-up to Monday's finals are 14 years boys top seed Bill Childs, Alex Studley, who is rated the number two player in the 16 girls and Callum Neal, seeded 16 in the 18 boys' singles.