JACOB MOORE | Evergreen sports editor
With WSU tennis Head Coach Lisa Hart as tournament director, the Palouse Tennis Club will host its sixth annual championship next week.
The one-day tournament will be held on WSU’s campus, and has historically attracted players from all around the Pacific Northwest, member of the club Dean Funabiki said.
“The Palouse Tennis Club has been very fortunate to have Lisa Hart as the tournament director,” Funabiki said. “Coach Hart, who leads the WSU collegiate program, is also dedicated to helping community-based events such as this tournament.”
Hart was a part of the previous five Palouse Tennis Championships.
Funabiki said the mission of this tournament is to bring awareness of the tennis opportunities to players in the region.
“Compared to other areas of Washington and the Pacific Northwest,” he said, “there are relatively few tournaments available.”
That’s why the club set out to provide increased opportunities in places like Pullman, Moscow and Lewiston in 2010, Fumabiki said. Not long after, the first Palouse Tennis Championship was held.
Typically the tournament spans two days, but this year, the club is trying one day. College and high school students who want to participate are offered a discount and do not have to purchase a membership — another new feature from previous years.
Funabiki said students wanted to play last year, but could not justify the cost of a United States Tennis Association membership fee. While players are required to pay $25 per person, the cost for students is $20.
“A unique aspect of our tournament is definitely the draw of players from all ages, from high school players through their 60s and beyond,” Funabiki said. “This year we have put a stronger emphasis on high school and college players from the region.”
Although the club is reaching out to students, it typically sees many older players, he said. The Palouse Tennis Club teams compete in various age group competitions, some 18 years of age and older, some 55 and older.
Members often travel around the region, as the 18-and-older men’s team will in February when it competes in the Tri-Cities.
As for this local tournament, Funabiki said tennis players have historically traveled from the Pacific Northwest and even from parts of the West Coast, including California.
“We anticipate having 50 players or more, most of them competing in more than one event,” he said. “It should be a full day of fun competition.”