UCC Open

By Dima Kulakov

I never believed in Murphy’s law, which states that whatever can go wrong, will go wrong. This year’s UCC Tennis Open, however, completely changed my perspective. 

Early this year, I had the idea of starting a tennis tournament at UCC. UCC has phenomenal tennis facilities that are, unfortunately, very underused. Since I have been playing tennis since I was 3 years old, this felt wrong to me. Furthermore, creating the UCC Open gave me the unique opportunity to start a one of a kind junior tennis tournament, with prizes ranging from $50 – $500. We also set a goal of collecting tennis equipment for Horizons and, fortunately, our players and sponsors, such as Head Canada, contributed quite a substantial number of racquets. 

I got all the necessary approval from the school and began turning my vision into reality.

At first, it was smooth sailing. In April, I began preparing for the UCC Open; I set up meetings, booked courts, set the dates, etc. Throughout the summer, I got the tournament site running, ordered trophies and merchandize, secured sponsors and got around 60 sign-ups and a couple of volunteers to help out. In late August, our draw of sixteen looked spectacular, with the highest-ranked signed up players, including four guaranteed spots for UCC players. 

And then, the troubles began. Within the next few days, players started pulling out of the tournament for various reasons, including injuries, last-minute trips, or family emergencies. Frantically, I sent out half a dozen e-mails to players on the wait-list, hoping they would still be able to play. Thankfully, it was enough to refill the draw. The next setback came on the first day of the tournament – September 6th.

When I woke up that Friday, I immediately checked the forecast, as the tournament was to be played on the outdoor courts of UCC. The forecast called for a 15% chance of rain, but that, along with the light blue, cloudless skies was little reason to worry. Since the tournament started at 3:00 o’clock, I left class at 2:00 to allow time for set up. As soon as I stepped out of the main foyer, however, I felt the water droplets hit me. As the rain’s intensity increased, my excitement turned to nervousness. A thousand questions raced through my head, the foremost of which was how would I be able to put the day’s matches on court? I ran through the quad to the courts, and my worst fear was confirmed – they were flooded. I had the idea to move the matches onto the indoor courts in the bubble. This allowed me to run all the scheduled matches. However, since I only had access to two courts, they lasted until past 11:00 pm. Although the day didn’t go at all as planned, I was quite pleased with the outcome. All the players and fans were happy, even the ones that lost, creating an atmosphere that contrasted that of any other junior tournament, where everyone is tense and generally unhappy.

The rest of the tournament went mostly as planned. Saturday was the busiest day, with three ‘shifts’ of matches to be played. This time, the outdoor courts were playable, so everything ran on time. Throughout the day, the Finalists were determined, and prizes worth up to $150 were distributed. On Sunday, we witnessed an incredible final between the second and sixth seeds that went down to the wire. After a speech from Mr. Bardai, the winner, Maxim Tokarev, was awarded a $500 Yorkdale gift card. 

As the tournament came to a close, I had a number of players tell me that the UCC Open was their favourite tournament they have ever played in, which was, for me, an ultimate sign of success. Though the tournament was far from flawless, I learned a plethora of unique, and valuable skills. This year’s UCC Open was a dream come true and I can only hope to make this tournament a new UCC tradition.