September 27, 2023

Open Court


California fires affect Fairfield Challenger

The fires that have ravaged Northern California have already caused 21 deaths.

Hundreds are missing and thousands more have had to flee their homes – if their homes are even still standing.

The smoke has not surprisingly made its way to Fairfield, which is just a few miles east of Napa Country.

Just watching on the live stream from thousands of miles away, you could see that the air at the $100,000 ATP Tour Challenger didn’t look anything close to the right color.

They’re awfully close to one of the biggest ones.


Napa is one of the three countries (along with Sonoma and Mendocino) that have been the worst hit by the blazes.

On Wednesday, one singles match (involving 17-year-old Canadian Félix Auger-Aliassime) was completed after an 11 a.m. start time. One doubles match also finished.

When you see a line umpire wearing a mask over her mouth in California, you know it’s no joking matter.


Matches cancelled and postponed

After those first couple of matches, they put everything on hold.  

“It’s horrible. Strong smoke everywhere,” Auger-Aliassime’s countryman Frank Dancevic told Tennis.Life. “My lungs are still hurting from my (singles) match yesterday.”

The air quality wasn’t considered very good on Tuesday. But they played on. Dancevic said it was worse on Wednesday.

“The match conditions weren’t easy, especially when the zone we’re in is considered “very unhealthy”,” Auger-Aliassime told Tennis.Life. I had to pull out of the doubles with Brayden (Schnur) because I didn’t want to stay in these conditions another day.”

Dancevic snapped this photo on his way to the courts at the Fairfield Challenger Tuesday morning, 9 a.m. It’s only gotten worse since. (Photo courtesy of Frank Dancevic)

Dancevic’s doubles match, and all remaining doubles matches, were cancelled Wednesday afternoon. He said that even three miles away, in his hotel room, the smell of smoke was still very strong and that much of the area has been evacuated. 

He added that he’s also contemplating pulling out of the doubles. 


The three remaining singles matches were scheduled not before 3 p.m. PDT. 

Nearly an hour later, they still hadn’t gotten under way. 

By 4:30 p.m., all play for Wednesday was cancelled.

The tournament has also postponed the player/sponsor party, scheduled for Wednesday night, “until further notice”.

The order of play for Thursday is up, scheduled on the regular courts.  But the tournament will have the quality of the air evaluated on site at 9:30 a.m.

After that, a decision will be made whether to play, or move to the Cal Davis site about a 40-minute drive away.

UPDATE: They determined it was good enough. So they’re playing in Fairfield. 

To add to that, there’s an evacuation center on the same college campus.

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