Setting the Stage for the 1994 Hawaii Open
The 1994 Hawaii Open was the first tour event in Hawaii since the Seiko Super tournament in 1984.
Destination: Oahu North Shore, famous for surfing
Site: Turtle Bay Hilton Golf & Tennis Resort, popular vacation spot for visitors and Kama’aina
The first IBM/ATP tournament of the year, the 1994 Hawaii Open served as a warmup for the Australian Open. This event was the perfect venue for 32 of the world’s best tennis professionals competing in the inaugural Hawaii Open with $288,750 at stake.
Notable Seeded Players
- #1 – Wayne Ferreira – Ranked #22
- #2 – Richey Reneberg – The highest-ranked American at #29
- #4 – Brad Gilbert – Ranked #35, The oldest player in the draw at age 32
- #6 – Fabrice Santoro – Ranked #38, Two-handed player known as “The Magician”
- #8 – Patrick McEnroe – Ranked #71, Later became the US Davis Cup captain in 2007
Top-Seeded Doubles Players
- #1 – Grant Connell & Patrick Galbraith – Ranked #1 in the world
- #2 – Patrick McEnroe & Richey Reneberg – Ironically, Richey had to play against Jim Grabb in the first round, his partner in ’92, when they won the US Open together.
Tournament Schedule and Events
- January 1-2: The qualifying rounds featured some notable wild card players that lost.
- Joel Finnigan – Kaiser High School graduate
- Marko Nesic – Brigham Young University-Hawaii student
- Paul Annacone – Later became Pete Sampras’ coach
- Brad Ferreira – Brother of Wayne Ferriera
- January 3-7: The main draw, held during the week, drew about 250-350 people daily.
- Other events included: Draw Party, Pro-Am Tournament, Clinics, Sponsor Party, Kid’s Day, Hospital/School Visit, and On-court Contests.
- Thanks to 40 hours of television coverage, the worldwide audience was treated to postcard-perfect conditions of the North Shore of Oahu and Turtle Bay Hilton Golf & Tennis Resort.
Singles Semi-Final Winners – Wayne Ferreira and Richey Reneberg
- 1,250 spectators saw the two contrasting matches, but with the same result.
- Wayne Ferreira from Johannesburg, South Africa, defeated Jonathan Stark (#5) in a long hard three-set 4-6, 6-4, 6-4, 2-hour battle.
- Richey Reneberg from Houston, Texas, beat unseeded Robbie Weiss in a decisive 1-hour match, 6-3, 6-2.
Singles Final – #1 defeats #2, 6-4, 6-7 (3-7), 6-1
- On a hot sunny day, with gusty wind conditions, 1,500 spectators witnessed a battle that lasted nearly two hours.
- See the full draw here. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/1994_Oahu_Open_%E2%80%93_Singles
- Champion – Wayne Ferreira earned $42,000 in prize money, a Tiki trophy, and a surfboard, the tournament’s perpetual trophy. He said, “I didn’t get to surf this week; I didn’t want to kill myself.”
- Finalist – Richey Reneberg received $24,150 in prize money. He stated, “It’s a lot of fun to be at a place where you can do more than just hit tennis balls. I had a great time this week. I think all the players have.”
Doubles Final – #3 Seeds Take the Title
- Cyril Suk and Tom Nijssen beat Alex O’Brien and Jonathan Stark, 6-4, 6-4
- Local Ties – Brothers Buzz and Skip Strode of Hawaii lost their first-round match to Brad Pearce and Dave Randall, 6-3, 7-6.
- See the full draw here. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/1994_Oahu_Open_%E2%80%93_Doubles#Seeds
Final Notes on the 1994 Hawaii Open
- “Many of the pros that participated in the event were very happy that they could walk to the courts since the tournament took place on-site at Turtle Bay,” stated Randy Kop.
- The temporary stadium assembled for the tournament was torn down the next day after the finals.
- The tournament sponsor, Spectrum, funded the entire tournament. The Tournament Director, David Baukol, stated, “We’d like to see it stay in Hawaii, but the details have yet to be worked out.”
- Sadly, the tournament never returned to Hawaii. But at least for that one year, Hawaii’s tennis fans were treated to an incredible week of top-caliber tennis, live and in person!
- Bruce Lum, “I was very fortunate and happy to be a volunteer for a couple of days. Helping Turtle Bay Director of Tennis Randy Kop and the HPTA at the tournament was a great experience, and it was a great pleasure to be a part of the countless other people who helped with the tournament. I remember leaving with the impression that the players felt and enjoyed the overall aloha spirit provided by the tournament staff and playing in Hawaii versus prior tournaments that I was a part of in Northern California a few years earlier.”
- Cyrus Chen, “That was a nice event but for people who live in town, was a haul to get out there. I was there with friends couple days and during the finals. Saw a lot of good players there. Think I visited you and Paul Sasaki in one of the suites where you were stringing. Too bad it was just a one-time event. They had temporary stands set up around the stadium court, and the views and being close to the beach was awesome. Also saw doubles finals won by Cyril Suk and his partner, Alex O’Brien was on the losing side.”
- Randy Kop, the Director of Tennis, stated, “One of the successes was the recruitment of the infantry soldiers from Schofield Barracks to assist with the court maintenance during the tournament. The tournament organizers donated to the Morale Welfare and Recreation (MWR), which allowed the soldiers to leave the base to work the event.”
Thank you to Randy Kop for providing some of the information and pictures for this article.
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If you volunteered, attended, or played in the USTA/Nissan Hawaii Tennis Circuit that ran from 1983-1994, I would love to hear from you! Tell me about your most memorable experience or highlight of that event.
More Hawaii Tennis History
- 1994 Hawaii Open — Inaugural Hawaii Tennis Event
- A Monumental First for Hawaii Tennis — 1992 Davis Cup
- 1985 USTA Women’s Circuit of Hawaii Tournament at Waialae Iki 5 — Hosted by The Gentry Companies
- A Trip Down Memory Lane — Video Walk-through of Hawaii Tennis History Memorabilia
- Futuristic Tennis Racquet: Historic 1977 Ilikai Grand Prix—Hawaii
- Island Holidays Pro Tennis Classic 1978 Lucky Loser — Tale of the Maui Miracle
- Avis Challenge Cup — A Trip Down Memory Lane in Hawaii Tennis History
- Groundstroke Tennis Training Aid — Innovative TopspinPro