Nothing was going to keep Jim Stubbs away from one of his prized ideas for the future of tennis on Hilton Head Island. His plans were too big to be pushed aside by any potential conflict.
Stubbs, the events director at Van Der Meer Tennis Academy, was looking to create a tournament where the area's most talented players could compete against one another for the right to be named the sport's best on Hilton Head.
But after the event -- appropriately dubbed the Hilton Head Island Open -- failed to stir much interest prior to its spring debut, Stubbs pushed the tournament back to September. Since then, it has gained some traction, more participants have signed up, and the inaugural event is set for its anticipated launch this afternoon at the Van Der Meer Shipyard on Hilton Head.
"I'm certainly excited for the event for the coming years," Stubbs said. "I like the idea of building a tradition."
Challenges like the one the Hilton Head Island Open faced are expected of a new tournament, something Stubbs certainly realizes. But more than 50 players will take part in this year's event, which will feature singles, doubles and mixed doubles.
Stubbs expects those participation numbers to grow in the coming years.
"One of the ideas behind the tournament, in calling it the Hilton Head Island Open, is to try to promote all the tennis players that live on the island and find out who is the best of the best," Stubbs said. "It's a lot of the players that play in the local tournaments, that's the backbone of it."
The upside of the event's early road block is it actually helped establish an official date for future tournaments, as the Hilton Head Island Open will continue to take place in September for the foreseeable future, Stubbs said.
"I feel like it's a really good time for a tennis tournament," he said.
The initial tournament also will be a valuable primer for the youngsters who will compete in next weekend's USTA sanctioned event on Hilton Head.
"At the end of the day, it's going to be a nice little tournament," Stubbs said. "It's a good warm-up for some of the juniors to play in the open division, because next weekend we've got the Van Der Meer Classic."
HILTON HEAD ISLAND OPEN
Today through Sunday, Van Der Meer Shipyard, Hilton Head Island
Schedule: Play is expected to start this afternoon with finals matches set to begin at 9 a.m. Sunday.
Admission: Free, and open to the public