Tracy Austin was a teenager when she was approached to lend her name to a doubles tennis tournament in Rolling Hills Estates.
By just 15, the tennis superstar had already been on the cover of Sports Illustrated, had made the quarterfinals of the United States Open and was ranked top 10 in the world.
But it was an easy decision, she said, to attach her name to her hometown tournament.
“We have a deep, rich history in not only Rolling Hills Estates, but in the South Bay of producing champions and producing phenomenal tennis players,” Austin said in a recent interview. “It’s just a rich tennis history here.”
Austin, a Palos Verdes Peninsula native and resident, won more than 30 career titles, including three Grand Slams. She was the world’s No. 1 ranked player in 1980. She later became the youngest person, at 29, to be inducted into the International Tennis Hall of Fame in 1992.
The Tracy Austin Doubles Tennis Tournament will celebrate its 43rd year this week at the Rolling Hills Estates Tennis Club at Ernie Howlett Park, 25851 Hawthorne Blvd., and the Jack Kramer Club, 11 Montecillo Drive.
The tournament will run from Friday to Sunday, Oct. 14-16.
The Rolling Hills Estates Pepper Tree Foundation, a nonprofit formed in 1982 to help maintain city parks, trails, open space and recreation facilities, will host the event. The tournament will feature men’s, women’s and mixed doubles. The top finishers in the Open Division will receive a cash prize.
The tournament is Special, Austin said, because it has a hometown feel where players of all ages can take part in different divisions. Around 125 teams normally participate over the weekend, with the finals taking place on Sunday at the Jack Kramer Club.
“Families have played over the years and enjoyed the weekend,” Austin said.
Rylan Rizza, a former ranked ATP player and current coach who attended Peninsula High School, has played in the tournament most of his life, originally with his grandfather when he was about 8 years old. His father, Dennis, was the director at the club for more than 30 years before his retirement and is now the Tracy Austin tournament director.
“I think it brings families together, bridging gaps between generations where you can have an 8-year-old play with – 75 year-old like I did,” Rizza said. “There’s not many tournaments where you get that kind of opportunity.”
Austin grew up playing tennis at the Jack Kramer Club, she said, and her mother, Jeanne, was the club’s original pro shop manager when it opened in 1962. Austin’s four siblings also became professional tennis players.
“I came here basically my whole life,” Austin said, “and (raised) my three boys here at this wonderful club that has a great community feel, family feel.”
Austin and her husband, Scott Holt, have three sons, Brandon, Dylan and Sean. Each son started playing in the tournament when they turned 8, Austin said. Dylan works in private equity in El Segundo, while Sean is a junior at USC. All three brothers attended USC, where Brandon was a top tennis player who recently made it to the second round of the U.S. Open.
Then ranked 303 in the world, Brandon, who overcame a career-threatening hand injury, made an unlikely run at the U.S. Open in August, defeating 12th ranked Taylor Fritz in the first round.
Brandon is now ranked 224 in the world, according to the ATP tour website.
His mother was at the tournament to cheer him on.
“Brandon is now on his way and moving up the rankings,” Austin said. “It’s just been surreal. There’s a lot of support. There was a party in here (Jack Kramer Club) during his matches. Everybody was watching, so it’s just a nice, fuzzy, warm feeling.”
Austin herself retired in 1994, at 31 years old, after a series of injuries. She battled tennis greats Martina Navratilova, Chris Evert and Steffi Graf. Since retiring, Austin has been a commentator for numerous tennis tournaments on different networks.
The former tennis superstar still heads to the courts, on Tuesday and Thursday mornings, at the Jack Kramer Club, she said.
“I still love it,” Austin said. “I feel blessed I played a sport professionally, that I still enjoy and I can still play.”
Austin will be at the tournament all weekend, she said.
Registration to participate in the tournament has been extended to noon on Monday, Oct. 10.
Participants will receive a tournament T-shirt and gift bag. Applicants and partners are required to have a USTA membership account number. To create a free membership account, visit tennislink.usta.com.
For more information about the tournament, visit bit.ly/3T6Aicc