The Banana Open Championships return to Hilton Head Island on Friday morning, as tennis enthusiasts from across the Southeast make their way to Palmetto Dunes Tennis Center for a weekend of friendly competition.
"We want this to be fun, for people to meet and have the opportunity to play with a lot of different people from a lot of different areas," tournament director Jackie Reynecke said. " ... You wouldn't believe how many people come and make a vacation out of this for the week."
Competition will still be fierce, but the tone of the tournament could be much more relaxed than others found in Beaufort County. Any player who participated in a previous Banana Open tournament this past summer is eligible to play, with champions and finalists getting the first opportunity.
Tournaments were hosted in Atlanta, Charlotte, on Hilton Head Island and several other cities across the Southeast.
"We do open it up to everybody, but there is a little bit of a pecking order," Reynecke said. " ... If you were not (a winner or finalist), you were just a participant, you can put in a lottery entry (to play)."
Exactly 245 players were signed up as of Monday, Reynecke said, a number that's been on par with tournaments in previous years. This fall's Banana Open will feature all ratings from 2.5 to open in singles, doubles and combined mixed.
The sheer number of champions in previous Banana Opens make this weekend's tournament impossible to seed, Reynecke said. But she is still expecting quality play, which begins at 11:30 a.m. Friday. The first day will run into the night, with competition set to resume at the same time Saturday morning. Finals will begin Sunday at 9 a.m.
Admission is free and open to the public.
Banana Open Championships
What: A three-day tennis tournament featuring participants from the Banana Open events held in several cities over the summer.
Where: Palmetto Dunes Tennis Center
When: Friday through Sunday. Play begins at 11:30 a.m. Friday and Saturday. Finals are slated to get underway at 9 a.m. Sunday.