Top College Women Heading For Kailua Racquet Club Tourney

For fans who long for live professional women’s tennis, the Women’s Night Doubles Tournament Nov. 10-16 at Kailua Racquet Club is their best bet.

While not officially a pro tennis tournament, the tourney, whose title sponsor is Creative Energy, is plainly the next-best entity. An impressive lineup of doubles teams hailing from Hawaii-based colleges has ensured as much over the past 12 years.

“They hit the ball just like pros, although maybe not with the same consistency, but it’s always a really high level of tennis,” said tournament director Bruce Nagel. “University of Hawaii and Hawaii Pacific University always list the tournament as one of their official events, so we pretty much have their whole teams competing every year. We always have a real international field, and HPU and BYUH are always near the top (national) in Division II.”

Like the club’s Men’s Night Doubles, which has long been the most widely attended tennis event in the state, the women’s tour-ney follows the men’s lead nicely. The field expanded from just eight teams in its first year of competition to 23 last year. Just as many teams are expected to play this year.

“In our first year, we went to college coaches and worked with them to get teams to play,” Nagel said. “It was a struggle to get eight at first, but once it started, the tournament has had a life of its own.”

It was an invite-only event then, but it opened up to everyone three years ago.

“In today’s world, 23 teams is a lot. You don’t hear of that (a field that large) very often. Now, everyone wants to play in it. We take good care of the players, and that’s one of the reasons for our success.”

As is the case with the men’s tournament, the women’s event is fan-friendly (admission is free), and it benefits from the spectacular backdrop provided by the club and the serene neighborhood setting.

The team of Hsuan Hwang and Jia Yuan, both of BYUH’s team, captured last year’s tournament. This year’s event kicks off with a Pro-Am Nov. 10, from 4 to 8 p.m. Eight teams comprised of official tournament participants and non-tournament players (usually KRC members) will play timed matches.

The tournament’s theme this year is once again “A Better World,” and KRC will donate a sizable sum to Castle Medical Center’s Wellness Center. (The Women’s Night Doubles raised more than $70,000 toward the fight against breast cancer in previous years.)

Matches are held nightly at 6 and 7:15. Visitors also will have the opportunity to sample food prepared by the club’s chef, Camille Komine, whose food truck, “Camille’s Wheels,” was recently chosen as a two-time winner of Best Food Truck in Hawaii.

For more information, call 262-2057.