TEMPLETON, Calif. - The Central Coast is serving up something different this week on the local sports scene, the inaugural Central Coast Pro Tennis Open.
"It's professional tennis," said tournament director Ralph Goehring. "It's a women's $60,000 prize purse and we have about 80 women from all over the world, representing about 20-to-25 different countries, competing mainly for ranking points and prize money."
The week-long event is being held at Templeton Tennis Ranch.
It features several players that have been ranked inside the world's top 50.
Several of the players in the field have also previously played in many of tennis' biggest tournaments.
"This is world class tennis," Goehring said. "More than half of the players have just recently played at the U.S. Open and many of them have played in Wimbledon, Roland Garros, the French Open and the Australian Open."
The tournament is the first of its kind for the Central Coast. The quality of compeition is a caliber of tennis never before seen here in the area.
"This is a total gift that we have this going on here," said tennis fan Jennifer Martin. "To have this literally in our backyard is exceptional and I'm really excited that (Templeton Tennis Ranch) has brought it here."
Held through Sunday at the two-year facility that's located just off Highway 101, fans are given an opportunity to catch the action up close and personal.
"You can see how the ball is moving and how hard we hit it," said American doubles player Sanaz Marand. "There's a different sound than what they're used to. I hope they enjoy it."
For most of the players in the field, especially the ones from outside the country, this marks their first time ever on the Central Coast.
Judging from initial reaction from the players, the tournament is a big hit.
"The weather is no nice and the area is really beautiful," said Viktorija Golubic of Switzerland. "There's a couple of good restaurants around, so I think it's nice here."
Golubic is the top-seed singles player in the tournament. Currently ranked 112th in the world, the 24-year-old is complimentary, not just of the area, but also, the still-new facility.
"It's a nice place here," Golubic. "It seems like it's in the middle of no where, but I was surprised the club is this nice and we've had really good weather every day, so I'm really enjoying it so far."
In addition to international players and other Americans, the tournament also features a couple of local players.
Playing as a wild card entry, the Arroyo Grande graduate Sophie Whittle pulled off perhaps the biggest win of her young career on Wednesday, upsetting No. 3 seeded Francoise Abanda of Canada.
With the victory, Whittle advanced to Thursday's Second Round with an evening match versus Laura Robson of Great Britain.
Earlier, Whittle teamed up with current Arroyo Grande junior Delanie Dunkle in doubles play.
With the players enjoying their experience, it's no surprise tournament organizers are hoping this event will be held for years to come.
"We want to keep it," Goehring said. "We want to keep it here every year as long as we can to keep them coming back and to have this top quality event in our area for a long, long time."
Goehring adds the tournament is a big win for the area, not just for local tennis fans, but the entire Central Coast.
"It's putting Templeton on the tennis map," Goehring said. "It's bringing people who more than likely may never come to the Central Coast. We're introducing them into the Central Coast, so they can get a flavor of our part of the state and the country."
The Central Coast Pro Tennis Open runs through Sunday, Oct. 1.
For more information, visit www.ttrprotennis.com