For the first time in the long and distinguished history of the B.C. Plate, Whistler senior tennis players will be in contention for the honours.
Running from Sept. 25 to 27 at the Whistler Racquet Club, the B.C. Plate is three days of round robin tennis matches for women, with categories starting at age 35 and up. Every team has three players and plays in both singles and doubles tennis matches over the course of the weekend.
Although theres a strong social element to the tournament, teams will be looking to win.
"These are the top-ranked players in the province, all the hot shots will be coming out this year which is incredible," said organizer Diana Pallot.
"Its kind of a social tournament in a lot of ways with all the different regions represented, theres a banquet and everything, but when it comes to playing tennis its all about the Plate for these ladies."
South Vancouver Island, last years winning team, will be back to defend their title against strong teams from North Vancouver Island, Vancouver/Lower Mainland and Sea to Sky (Whistler and North/West Vancouver).
Lee Dobson and Hana Brabenec, two of the top players in the province who founded the B.C. Plate tournament in 1988, will be back this year to challenge for the title after missing the tournament last year. The addition of three Sea to Sky teams with nine players, brings the total field to 96 players this year.
While Whistler players are new to the tournament, the Sea to Sky team is not without its stars.
Marjorie Blackwood, a three-time Canadian champion as well as a former pro ranked in the top-50, will play on the Sea to Sky Over 40 team, along with Shelley Lister and Tess Geddes.
The other Whistler teams are Esther Gorman, Carolyn Tanksley and Rose Koning in the 45 and Over category, and Linda Hundersond, Berta Horn and Doreen Watson in the 50 and Over group.
"Weve never played in the B.C. Plate before, Whistler has always been a little out of the competitive loop," said Blackwood. "This is a fantastic opportunity for us, bringing the Plate to Whistler, because it gives us a chance to get involved. It will also bring close to 100 people to Whistler in a slow time of the year, so its a great event in a lot of ways."
Blackwood says the Whistler players have been practising to get ready for the tournament, although she has been too busy with lessons to concentrate on the three-day event. Still, she says she is looking forward to the B.C. Plate.
"I know the women are super-competitive, and its a big turnout representing the four participating regions. It should be a lot of fun, and some good, skilled competition."
Spectators are welcome to come out and watch the tournament, with each team playing three singles and three doubles games. The matches will get underway on Friday, Sept. 24 at around 1 p.m., and after 8 a.m. on Saturday and Sunday.
If the weather co-operates, most of the matches will take place on the main outdoor court, but organizers are prepared to move to the indoor courts if things change.