Bluffton High School tennis coach Robert Brown started the Bluffton Today Open with the goal of "building and assisting" public tennis in Bluffton.
With the seventh Bluffton Today Open starting play today, the format of the tournament may have changed, but the goal hasn't.
This year, the tournament will focus on junior players, with singles and doubles for 12 and under, 14 and under, and 18 and under. There are two flights, as well. Division I is for intermediate players, while Division II is for beginner to advanced-beginner players. And all of this year's matches will be played at Bluffton High School.
"The public is invited to come on out and watch," Brown said. "It'll be some great tennis. Just regular kids, no superstars, providing some free entertainment all weekend."
There also will be a silent auction involving golf packages, tennis packages, hotel accomodations and fine dining. Spectators can bid throughout the weekend.
The proceeds from the auction will go to the Bluffton Today Open's three-pronged goal of promoting public tennis in Bluffton. The BTO funds public tennis projects like resurfacing and equiping courts; supports junior tennis by offering lessons and providing equipment, transportation and lessons; and the Bluffton Today Open College Fund, which provides $1,000 a year to a Bluffton High School senior to further their tennis career.
"When we started this, it seemed like the only places for kids to play tennis in Bluffton were in gated communities and it cost money," Brown said. "We want to build courts, to resurface older courts, buy new equipment and take care of kids who otherwise wouldn't be able to play tennis."
BLUFFTON TODAY OPEN
When: Today through Sunday
Where: Bluffton High School tennis courts
Notes: Singles play begins at 5 p.m. today. Doubles play begins at 4 p.m. Saturday. ... An adult-child doubles event will be played Saturday following doubles play. ... Finals are Sunday. ... All matches are free and open to the public.