The Okoboji Open

University of Okoboji hosts 40th World Tennis Classic

It could be called the unofficial fifth major of tennis. While the big names may be lacing up their shoes across the pond at Wimbledon there is plenty of hard court action going on in the Iowa Great Lakes.

The 40th annual University of Okoboji World Tennis Classic takes over the courts July 13-14 at Speier Park in Okoboji.

Lucky for those taking the court, they won’t have face down Serena Williams or Rafael Nadal in the finals of this one.

“What’s been really fun is we’re starting to see our second and third generations of participants from the same families,” said tournament organizer Brian Richter. “We get a lot of returning players and it’s always fun to find a couple new people who are up for the weekend and hear about it word-of-mouth and check it out for the first time.”

The tournament actually predates Richter by a few years and was hosted at Arrowwood Resort & Conference Center for awhile when it had indoor tennis courts.

There are several events prospective players can sign up for including men’s, women’s, doubles and mixed doubles, in a variety of age divisions.

The cost is $28 for the first event and $23 for a second event.

Richter says the key to such a long-running successful event like the World Tennis Classic, which averages about 70-80 participants, is sticking to what works best.

The event even draws players from area college teams like Gustavus Adolphus College in St. Peter, MN, and Morningside College in Sioux City, which provide for some fun matches to watch, according to Richter.

“We’re not trying to reinvent the wheel,” Richter said. “We offer a unique event for people who want competition or just a casual match. We try to offer just about everything. A big draw is that you can play a match or two then run and hop on a boat and go enjoy everything the Lakes have to offer.”