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Pacific Northwest Championships see Canadian tennis influence

For the first time, the PNW Open will have a little Northern flair to its main draw.

Five Tennis Canada participants — Jack Davis, Luka Vukovic, Jerry Huang, Jessie Gong and Sasha Vagramov — trekked down to the Tacoma Lawn Tennis Club from Vancouver, British Columbia, and after the men blazed through the qualifiers, all hold a spot in Wednesday’s main draw.

Canadians have participated in the event before, but this is the first year an organized group from Canada has participated in the PNW Open, according to TLTC head pro Nick Moxley.

The event fields a majority of local and in-state participants.

On the trip down south Monday, a drive that usually spans three hours became seven for the group. Davis, a 17-year-old University of Washington commit played his first round qualifier just 30 minutes after arriving in Tacoma. Never mind the stiff legs, Davis defeated Brian Nguyen of Edmonds, 6-1, 6-0. On Tuesday, he earned a spot in the main draw with a 6-0, 6-0 win over club member Anthony Rice.

Davis, a tall high school senior-to-be with a powerful serve, said part of the reason he is in the tournament is to play in front of UW men’s tennis coach Matt Anger, who was in attendance.

“This year is the first time we’ve come,” Tennis Canada coach Roberto Brogin said, “but regularly we are coming to play in PNW tournaments. We are close by Seattle (and) Tacoma so you can drive. It’s easy going. Beautiful clubs, beautiful weather, why not?”

Tennis Canada operates in northern Vancouver and trains youth standouts as young as 11 years old, until they are 16 to 17. The majority of the group this weekend, Brogin said, is utilizing the matches in this event as practice in anticipation of next week’s ITF Grade 4 tournament Copa Tampico in Tampico, Mexico.

Though he knows nothing about his opponent, No. 2 seed and UW standout Mitch Stewart, Vukovic said he’s looking forward to the match. To draw from past success, he thinks back to a 2015 tournament qualifier, when he played No. 1-ranked U.S. player Adam Neff.

“He was quite a heavy favorite in that match, but I knew I had a bit of a chance if I executed, and I beat him in a third set,” Vukovic said. “That was probably my biggest win.”

Huang topped William Yallup of Seattle, 6-0, 6-0, then Olympia’s John Stormans, 6-0, 6-1, to land a main draw matchup against UW’s Jake Douglas.

Gong plays the winner of Sofia Panchuk (Rochester, N.Y.) and Taylor Anderson (Gig Harbor) at 1 p.m. Wednesday. Vagramov, one of Canada’s top young players at age 14, faces Caroline Dreher of Snohomish at 8 a.m.

Will the youngsters make some noise in the main event?

Brogin offered a non-definitive, short-winded prediction.

“We’ll see,” he said. “Hopefully.”

@a_buhla

125nd Pacific Northwest Open Tennis Championships

When: Main draw for singles begins at 9 a.m. Wednesday. Doubles begins Thursday. All finals will take place Sunday.

Where: Tacoma Lawn Tennis Club

Who: 157 players will compete

Purse: $22,500 in total prize money. Men’s winner gets $4,000, second place 2,000. Women’s winner gets $2,500, second place $1,000.

The main draw: On the men’s side, the main draw that begins Wednesday at 9 a.m., highlighted by former UW standout and Tumwater native Kyle McMorrow, who will face Boise State commit and former University Prep standout Wyatt DeMulling at noon. Current UW and former Federal Way standout Mitch Stewart, the No. 2 overall seed, will face 15-year-old Luka Vukovic (Burnaby, B.C.) at noon. Petra Rampre is back to defend her 2015 titles in women’s singles and doubles. She plays Karina Chao of Sammamish at 4:30 p.m.; Brier native Jacqueline Cako is ranked No. 426 in the world for singles and is a No. 1 seed, playing Puyallup’s Madison Egan at 2 p.m. . Cako will team up with former UNLV player Joel Kielbowicz in mixed doubles.

Schedule: 9 a.m.-7:30 p.m. Wednesday; 11 a.m.-9 p.m. Thursday; 11 a.m.-7:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday; 11 a.m.-2:30 p.m. Sunday.

Admission: Daily pass, $5; Tournament pass, $20.

Information: www.thetltc.com/pnw-open.html.

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