Tuesday, September 11, 2018

Redding pro tournament canceled because of wildfires

Ana Veselinovic of Montenegro ousted
top-seeded Sofya Zhuk of Russia in the
first round of last year's $25,000 tourna-
ment in Redding, Calif. Photo by
Paul Bauman 
   The $25,000 Ascension Project Women's Open, scheduled for this week at Sun Oaks Tennis & Fitness in Redding, Calif., was canceled because of wildfires that have ravaged the area.
   The Carr Fire, the sixth-most destructive in California history, began on July 23 and was 100 percent contained on Aug. 30. Caused by a flat tire that ignited sparks, it killed eight people and injured three, burned 229,651 acres, destroyed 1,079 residences and 525 other structures, and cost more than $1.659 billion.
   The Hirz Fire, which has scorched 46,150 acres since it began on Aug. 9, has been 97 percent contained. But the Delta Fire, which began on Wednesday and has burned 49,874 acres, has been only 5 percent contained.
   "We have three kids in our competitive program, as well as countless members, who lost their homes," Ascension Project tournament director Toby Osborn said Monday. "It's just been a tough time for the community, and we felt it was better to fundraise for those people in need rather than to fundraise to host and support a tournament."
   The fires have raged west and north of Redding, which has a population of 90,000 and lies 200 miles (322 kilometers) north of San Francisco. Sun Oaks is east of downtown.
   The tournament was canceled in early August, Osborn said.
   "It's a very good thing we canceled it because we could not have played with the smoke that we're having from some of the other fires regardless," Osborn said.
   The tournament, which had been held in Redding for 15 consecutive years, is scheduled to return to Sun Oaks next September, Osborn added. Alumni include Sloane Stephens and Victoria Azarenka.
   This is the second straight year that wildfires have affected a Northern California professional tournament. During the $100,000 NorthBay Healthcare Men's Pro Championship in Fairfield last October, two players were evacuated from their hosts' homes, and Wednesday afternoon matches were canceled because of smoke.
   This year's Fairfield tournament is scheduled for Oct. 6-14 at Solano Community College.

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