Philip Bester into the finals at The Ojai

We’ve been doing some coverage of California’s classic tournament, The Ojai, this week over at Tennis.Life. But Colette Lewis of Zoo Tennis, who also is on site covering an event that has both the juniors and the college players in the same place, kindly gave us the heads’ up that Canadian Philip Bester is competing in the men’s open division.

With a current ATP Tour ranking of No. 341, Bester is the top seed in the 32-man draw. The No. 2 seed, Clay Thompson, is currently ranked No. 801.

Which doesn’t mean the trophy is already in his pocket.

It is the lot of players with his ranking to play cash tournaments, to help supplement the income at the Challenger and Futures levels. The total prize-money package at The Ojai for the men’s and women’s Open events is over $22,000 (US), of which $5,300 goes to the men’s champion.

Bester has reached the finals without dropping a set.  He defeated 31-year-old Haythem Abid, a Tunisian and former No. 1 player for UCLA, 6-3, 7-6 (4)  in the semi-finals.

And in one of those full-circle kind of things, Bester faced Cecil Mamiit in the quarterfinals and posted a 6-4, 6-3 victory.

Mamiit, now 40, was born in L.A. and played for the Philippines as a pro. He reached career bests of No. 72 in singles (in 1999) and No. 102 in doubles (in 2006) and was the first freshman since John McEnroe to win the NCAA singles title (for USC) when he did it in 1996.

Why is it full circle?

Well, in Jan. 2011 he became Maria Sharapova’s hitting partner.

When she won the French Open in 2012, he played a big role in helping her achieve the career Grand Slam. Obviously, by those scores, he still has a lot of game.

Mamiit is a former hitting partner of Maria Sharapova. He was on hand when she completed the career Grand Slam at the 2012 French Open.


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