By Karen Ronney
The Cymbiotika San Diego Open WTA 500, Presented by ResMed had it all. It was a tournament of surprises, incredible tennis, a heartfelt farewell, community celebrations and a stunning atmosphere. The Southern California Tennis Association Foundation is proud to be an event sponsor for the second straight year.
During the eight-day event, approximately 16,000 tickets were sold to fans who watched 18 qualifying and 25 main draw singles matches as well as 16 doubles matches. Eight out of the top 20 players in the world graced the courts at Barnes Tennis Center in San Diego. The field was led by No. 1 seed Ons Jabeur (TUN), No. 2 Caroline Garcia (FRA), No. 3 Maria Sakkari (GRE), No. 4 Barbora Krejcikova (CZE), No. 5 Belinda Bencic (SUI), No. 6 Veronika Kudermetova, No. 7 Beatriz Haddad Maia (BRA) and No. 8 Ekaterina Alexandrova. The total prize money for the event was $780,637, which was an increase of more than 3% from last year. The singles champion took home $120,150 and the runner up received $74,161. Additionally, the doubles champions each earned $40,100, and the finalists took home $24,300.
“This year’s tournament was bigger and better in every way,” said Linda Milan, the Executive Director of the SCTA Foundation. “The players were inspiring; the fans were enthusiastic and the venue was extraordinary. It truly was an elite event in an intimate yet charming setting that gave the So Cal tennis community an experience they will never forget. Barnes Tennis Center was transformed into a magical setting. Tennis fans came from near and far to enjoy this tournament and bringing tennis to all communities is part of the SCTA Foundation’s mission.”
Barbora Krejcikova, a 27-year-old from Brno, Czech Republic, was a Wild Card entry who paved a pathway to win the singles and doubles finals on Saturday. It was her seventh career singles title with a 6-4, 2-6, 6-4 victory over American Sofia Kenin. Krejcikova then partnered with countryman Katerina Siniakova to log her second major coup of the tournament over the American duo of CoCo Vandeweghe and Danielle Collins.
Previously, Krejcikova had recovered from an injury, and lost in the first round of the US Open. However, she bounced back in the Cymbiotika San Diego Open in a big way.
“I came here with not really good statistics after my injury, I didn’t actually win any matches,” Krejcikova said. “So I was hoping and believing that I could get the first win and go from there. It’s pretty special to be sitting here having won (the title.”)
Krejcikova and Kenin, the latter being the 2020 Australian Open singles champion, both received Wild Cards into the main draw and impressed spectators with great play throughout the week. The final was a 2-hour and 38-minute epic battle before a full house of 2,500 fans on center court, who gasped and cheered for the two women tennis warriors. After clinching the singles title and a 30-minute break, Krejcikova and Siniakova added another doubles title to their impressive resume. This pair previously secured a Golden Slam plus captured Olympic Gold. They won the Australian Open (2023), Wimbledon (2018), Roland Garros (2018), and the US Open (2023). They also were victorious in the Tokyo Olympics (2022). They’re the second women’s doubles team ever to complete a Career Golden Slam, after the Williams sisters, and are one of the best teams on the Hologic WTA Tour.
Other notable Cymbiotika San Diego Open WTA 500 highlights:
- Young teen talent Clervie Ngounoue (USA), 17, received a Wild Card into the qualifying draw after winning the 2023 Wimbledon Junior Title, the 2022 Australian Open Girls Doubles and the 2023 French Open Girls Doubles Titles as well as being the USTA Billie Jean King Girls 18s National Singles Championship. (The SCTA Foundation was a proud sponsor of that event.) Ngounoue went two rounds before falling to No. 110 WTA ranked Katie Volynets (USA).
- So Cal players Alyssa Ahn (USA) and USC All-American Eryn Cayetano (USA) received Wild Cards into the qualifying and proved could be the next generation of American stars. Also, So Cal standouts Kayla Day (USA) and Claire Liu (USA) had strong performances in the qualifying.
A Heartfelt Farewell:
Vandeweghe, 31, played in her last WTA match of her decade-and-a-half-long pro career. The Rancho Santa Fe resident reached the quarterfinals or better at the three of the four majors in singles, rising to a career-high No. 9 in 2018. In doubles, she captured the 2018 US Open title with Australia’s Ashleigh Barty. She also helped lead the U.S. to the Billie Jean King Cup crown in 2017, the nation’s first championship since 2000.
Each day at the Cymbiotika San Diego Open held exciting community events. Qualifying weekend extended an invitation to all juniors, high school players and USTA Junior Team Tennis participants to attend the matches for free. Hundreds responded to the call and had a great time. Additionally, the first 100 kids from on Sunday (9/10) received a free t-shirt and food voucher. On court action saw WTA pros Leylah Fernandez, Barbora Krejcikova and Beatriz Haddad Maia participate in a hitting clinic with local adults and juniors.
A Rady Children’s Celebrity Match entertained the crowd featuring Lindsey Jacobellis, Gina Seau, Jennifer Alden, Kathleen Bade (chair ump) and WTA pro Caroline Dolehide in the day session. Later that evening, the Nurse of the night from Rady Children’s was recognized on center court.
On Monday 9/11 the Tennis Channel featured an inspiring Women & Wellness Mental Health Talk. Then Military Appreciation Day brought Wounded Warriors from San Diego to the court along with a Color Guard Ceremony and a 9/11 Remembrance Moment. There was also a moment to recognize the passing of San Diego wheelchair tennis coach and advocate Bryan East and a plaque was presented to his widow.
Tuesday’s (9/12) features included a Hologic Cancer’s Survivors Clinic attended by WTA pro Emma Navarro, a Cymbiotika Clinic with Maria Sakkari, and an engaging Q&A with Siniokova. The San Diego District Tennis Association was recognized for their efforts to support local tennis. Tournament Director Ryan Redondo presented SDDTA President John Broderick with a plaque. Sloane Stephens was the star of the Cymbiotika Meet and Greet and Anhelina Kalinina was the VIP Guest Bartender. Finally, it was a great celebration hosted by Corey Hardick from CH CourtTech and Luke Burden from Laykold in the Tarantula Hill VIP Lounge at the Cymbiotika San Diego Open along with the USPTA San Diego Division teaching professionals.
The Wellness Village was buzzing with a Women & Wellness Mindfulness Talk on Wednesday (9/13) featuring Danielle Collins, there was a Q&A with Aldila Sutjaidi, and Maria Sakkari visited with fans at the Morgan Stanley Chalet. Additionally, Bethany Mattek-Sands and Anna Danilina were guest bartenders while Navarro attended the ACEing Autism Clinic.
Media and music stars were the highlight for Thursday (9/14) in a celebrity match featuring Peter Wentz, Jeff Probst, Chris Crabbe and Siniakova. Hometown hero Vandeweghe was the VIP Guest Bartender. Cymbiotika influencers worked their magic and there were over 15 million impressions logged on social media channels.
On Friday (9/15), it was Filipino Appreciation Day and Redondo presented a plaque to Alan Camaisa in an oncourt ceremony. In the evening session, it was Cymbiotika San Diego Open Women’s Appreciation Night presented by Calidi Biotherapeutics and five winners were recognized on the screen and in person. Rady Children’s Nurse of the Night was honored and Siniokova the Guest Bartender in the Fierce & Kind Lounge.
On the final night, center court action featured the exciting singles and doubles finals and concluded with honoring the Host Committee for their effort to bring this exciting event to San Diego.
“The focus on community was exceptional,” Milan said. “The tournament highlighted those making a difference in the So Cal tennis world and women’s health. We are so grateful to everyone who helped make this happen starting with our sponsors, the host committee, directors and organizers, security staff, badges and ticket crew, the WTA, the ballkid program, Barnes Tennis Center staff, pros, community groups, all media and about 175 community volunteers who gave of their time. Special thanks to all and we look forward to seeing you in February.”
Gratitude to J. Fred Sidhu for contributing to this report.
About the Southern California Tennis Association Foundation:
We are a 501c3 nonprofit organization and is the charitable arm of USTA Southern California. The Foundation’s mission is to “Change lives and build communities through tennis.” Since 2020, the SCTA Foundation has had a community impact of giving over $1million in tennis grants and tennis scholarships to deserving youth, adults, tennis organizations, tennis facilities and tennis programs to make tennis an equal opportunity sport, accessible to all, regardless of age, ability, ethnicity, or economic background. Visit us on Social Media on Instagram and Facebook. To learn more about the SCTA Foundation go to: www.sctafoundation.org. To donate go to: sctafoundation.org/donate/ or https://secure.qgiv.com/for/sctfougivtue.