1994 Hawaii Open — Inaugural Hawaii Tennis Event

1994 Hawaii Open - Photo Collage

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. 

1994 Hawaii Open Official Program - Autographed
Autographed Official Program

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. 
Stadium Court - Turtle Bay Resort
Finals – Stadium Court

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.”
Richey Reneberg & Albert Murata
Richey Reneberg

Doubles Final – #3 Seeds Take the Title

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.”

Photos

Thank you to Randy Kop for providing some of the information and pictures for this article.

Next Hawaii Tennis History Article

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. 

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Albert Murata

You could find Director of Tennis for the Royal Kona Resort Tennis Club, Albert Murata, stringing racquets in the AM Stringing Pro Shop or Pro Circuit events, teaching on the courts, coaching a youth tennis team, or playing league tennis! He has a long history in the tennis community from Kona to Oahu.

2 Comments

  1. Thanks, Albert for the post…it took a team effort and many years of hosting USTA/HPTA events @TBR to secure this first ever ATP Tour marque event on Oahu! Unfortunately, Randy Kop got zero funding or support from Honolulu City and County, DBEDT and HTA to continue the event after I relocated to IMGA HQ in Bradenton, FL…Rick Fried has been the champion/catalyst to secure several one and done pro events of late in the islands! Hawaii is still void of hosting annual ATP or WTA Tour event! Very proud of the many accomplishments and awards that IMG Academy and staff enjoyed managing TBR tennis complex for 15 years.
    Regarding intel on USTA/Nissan tour event suggest contacting Bill Bartlett @ Boeing Tennis Club in Seattle as once Illaki was finished hosting the event it was moved to TBR and upgraded to a $50k USTA Challenger in 1987 during the Tennis Weekend of which Randy and I managed before securing the ATP Hawaii Open in 1994.

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