FLORENCE, S.C. (WBTW) — If tennis is your game, then Florence is where you’ll want to be this week as professional players from around the world put their skills on display at the McLeod for Health Florence Open.
The tournament began Monday and continues through Sunday at the Dr. Eddie Floyd Florence Tennis Center.
It began in 2014 as a partnership between McLeod Health and the city of Florence to help raise awareness of breast cancer and physical activity. It benefits women in the region with mammogram scholarships.
As one of the smallest cities on the USTA Pro Circuit, Florence was selected to host the event because of its world-class courts, strong volunteer base, and the generosity of its sponsors.
Players have traveled as far as Japan, China, and Tunisia to participate in the tournament and will be competing for ranking points and a $25,000 purse.
“This tournament is the only professional sporting event in the city of Florence,” said Jonny Wimbush, junior development pro for the city of Florence. “McLeod for Health Florence Open. A bunch of money and a bunch of the proceeds. All the proceeds actually go to McLeod for their mammography exams and just research in that area.”
The city says the tournament has a great history of attracting future Grand Slam champions, including Bianca Andreescu, Sofia Kenin, and Naomi Osaka.
Bianca Andreescu, the 2018 McLeod for Health Florence Open winner, went on to win the 2019 U.S. Open defeating Serena Williams in the finals.
Allie Murrell, one of this year’s tournament participants, said she’s looking forward to playing and meeting the other competitors.
“This is my second year playing in the tournament,” Murrell said. “It’s a really great tournament, so very well ran event, and it’s for a great cause, so I’m excited to play.”
Feature matches will be held daily at noon throughout the week. The doubles finals and singles semi-finals are scheduled for Saturday, while the singles finals will be on Sunday.
The matches are free and open to the public.