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Florence Open to benefit fight against breast cancer

April 25, 2014 09:03 AM

FLORENCE, S.C. – City of Florence Recreation Director Darlene Buchanan announced Thursday that the Florence Open, the area’s only professional tennis tournament, has formed an alliance with Susan G. Komen Lowcountry to help support the fight against breast cancer in the Pee Dee region.IMG_8359

The week-long USTA Pro Circuit women’s event, now in its third year, draws some of the best young professional players from around the world to compete for $25,000 in prize money and higher rankings.

This year’s tournament will be held October 13-19 at the Eddie Floyd Tennis Center in Florence.

Buchanan said the partnership with the regional branch of the Komen Foundation is a perfect fit. "October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month. This is one of the country’s premier women's tournaments, and we want to do something that benefits our community directly," she said.

Net profits from the event will go to Komen Lowcountry, which serves a 17-county region, including Florence and the Pee Dee counties. For several years, Komen Lowcountry has provided major grants to McLeod Health to support mammograms, follow-up diagnostic procedures, patient navigation services, and survivor support services, including transportation and child care.

Revenues from the Florence Open will be secured by the Eastern Carolina Community Foundation, a Florence-based non-profit public charity that manages a large number of charitable funds contributed by individuals and organizations. This arrangement will ensure that net tournament proceeds are delivered promptly to Komen Lowcountry upon the conclusion of the tournament. The arrangement also will benefit Florence directly because funds held by the ECCF, even for short periods, are invested and the earnings are returned to the Pee Dee area in the form of grants, scholarships and other charitable contributions.

With nearly 70 tournaments held annually throughout the country, the USTA Pro Circuit is the pathway to the US Open and tour-level competition for aspiring tennis players. It also is a frequent battleground for established professionals.

The USTA Pro Circuit is the largest developmental tennis circuit in the world, drawing more than 1,000 men and women annually from from more than 70 countries to compete in cities all over the U.S. Maria Sharapova, John Isner, Caroline Wozniacki, Sam Querrey, Victoria Azarenka and Andy Murray are among today’s top stars who began their careers on the USTA Pro Circuit.

Florence, one of the smallest cities that hosts a circuit event, was selected to host an event because of its world-class courts, its strong volunteer base, and the generosity of its sponsors. The Florence Open puts the city on the world tennis map and generates significant tourism revenues for the community.

The Florence Open will feature 32-draw qualifying and main rounds and a pro-am event. The week’s events will be organized and managed by a tournament steering committee that includes Buchanan, Florence Director of Tennis Rob Hill, and a number of Florence Tennis Association volunteers.

FTA President Ernie James said the FTA already has volunteer committees working on marketing, fundraising, identifying host families and other volunteers, and developing community activities and social events to add more spice to the tournament week.

Hill, who also will serve as tournament director, said, “The goals are to bring world-class tennis to Florence, to create a genuine community event, and to raise funds that will enable us to make a significant donation to an excellent cause. This will be great tennis for a great cause.”

Current plans call for a Community Day, which will feature a fun walk to honor cancer survivors, exercises and introductory tennis lessons for adults and children, music and refreshments. There will also be opening and closing ceremonies and an evening set aside to honor sponsors and cancer survivors. Tournament admission will be free, but attendees will be offered the opportunity to donate directly to Komen Lowcountry.

For more information, check out the Florence Open on Facebook at