The third edition of Pro League Tennis begins tonight on Hilton Head Island, as four teams will vie for the right to claim the championship trophy awarded in June.
Founded in 2011, the league serves as a place for Hilton Head Island's local tennis professionals and highly-ranked amateurs to play competitively. Notable players such as Marcos Ondruska -- who in 1993 climbed to the 27th-ranked singles spot in the world -- and Tom Shimada, who peaked at No. 40 in the world doubles ranking in 2001, are slated to take part once again this season.
"The first two years have been fantastic," said Lee Holyoak, one of the primary organizers of the event. "I hope it just continues to grow. Hopefully we stimulate interest in tennis in the local area by having these great players come out and play tennis and provide a little entertainment for everybody."
The league is open to any tennis player with a 4.5 or higher USTA ranking. More than 40 players will take part this year.
Holyoak and his team from Island Family Dental took home the title a year ago, sweeping Spinnaker Resorts, 3-0, in the championship. The team will begin its path toward a repeat performance at 6 p.m. Friday, when play gets underway at the Spanish Wells Golf and Country Club. The second group of matches will begin sometime around 8 p.m.
"We're ready to go," Holyoak said. "We're looking forward to getting rolling."
The teams will battle it out every Friday night for cash -- prizes total more than $10,000 thanks to seven sponsors -- and bragging rights, naturally. All matches feature free admission with concessions provided at each event.
Tennis clubs across Hilton Head Island will provide the setting each Friday night over the next seven weeks, culminating in the championship match June 7 at Long Cove Club.
2013 Pro League Tennis Schedule
April 26: Spanish Wells
May 3: Moss Creek
May 10: Palmetto Dunes
May 17: Sea Pines Country Club
May 24: Rose Hill
May 31: Wexford
June 7: Long Cove