A York County tradition will return Thursday evening.
The York City-County Tennis Tournament will begin its 94th edition at 5:30 p.m. at Farquhar park. The event is expected to conclude Tuesday.
This year's tournament features a Men's Open Singles bracket that includes 24 players, along with a 10-player Men's Intermediate Singles draw. That's a 62 percent increase over last year, when 21 men competed in singles. The Men's Doubles draw has 15 teams. The brackets for Women's Singles, Mixed Doubles and Women's Doubles have not yet been released. Registration for those events is open through Friday. As of Wednesday evening, there four women entered in singles, 11 teams entered in Mixed Doubles and six entered in Women's Doubles. Last year, there was no Women's Singles champion because only one woman entered the event.
"Participation is up in every division," second-year tournament director Phil Myers said. "It's been pretty stressful. Between running the tournament and working at Wisehaven, it's a lot of work. I put a pretty good amount of time into it. I'm proud of the level of the Men's Open Singles draw. All 24 men are rated 4.0 or above by the USTA (United States Tennis Association). It's an incredibly deep draw."
Still, Myers, the assistant director of tennis at Wisehaven, admits he's a bit "ambivalent" about the number of participants in the event.
"I have mixed emotions," he said. "It's great that we're up in numbers, but it could be a lot better. I'm a little disappointed, because for our tennis community, this should be a no-brainer to play in this tournament. For juniors coming up, it makes no sense not to play in it. I'm calling them out, so to speak. It's very disheartening. They don't want to put the time in, and they don't want to play matches. Going way back, there used to be 128 men in the draw."
Defending champion Jared Howat, who also works at Wisehaven, is the No. 1 seed in Men's Open Singles, followed by Myers at No. 2. Howat and Myers met in the 2013 finals, with Howat earning a 7-6 (4), 6-4 triumph.
The other seeded players in Men's Open Singles are: Jody Sambrick at No. 3, Nathan Gambino at No. 4, Wes Davis at No. 5, Jason Phillips at No. 6, Brok Walker at No. 7 and Kevin Tran at No. 8. Sambrick is the No. 1 singles player at Millersville University. Tran also plays for Millersville.
"We're finally starting to take advantage of getting players from outside of York County," said Myers, who graduated from York High and York College.
In 2010, tournament officials changed the rules to allow participants from outside of the county.
Two York City-County legends, Jim Kohr and Craig Diehl, will not compete in Men's Singles this year, but they will team up in Men's Doubles. Kohr owns a record 16 City-County Men's Singles crowns, while Diehl owns 11 titles. Kohr and Diehl are seeded No. 1 in the doubles field. They have combined to win 20 City-County Men's Doubles championships.
The tournament was moved a week earlier this year to avoid the Fourth of July holiday. Last year's event ended on July 3, which likely hurt the number of spectators who came to view the finals.
— Reach Steve Heiser at firstname.lastname@example.org.