Pavel is back(hand)

Toronto's Pavel Krainik competes at the 2014 Mid Canada Open in Thunder Bay. Krainik, the 2014 and 2017, is back at the annual Thunder Bay tennis tournament this weekend.

The competitive men’s single field at the Mascarin Collision Mid Canada Open has its share of returning and familiar names.

Action at the city’s top tennis tournament begins today at the Thunder Bay Community Tennis Centre. Age division range from youth to seniors.

With a total purse of $12,000, the Open is considered the highest paying amateur tournament in the country, according to centre club pro Jamie Grieve.

Defending men’s champion Dusty Boyer and 2018 women’s winner Ysabel Nunez are not returning to fold this year. However, the 32-player men’s singles draw is packed with talent. Back after winning the title two years ago is Toronto’s Pavel Krainik, who is named the No. 1 seed. Krainik, who was born in Russia, is the 11th ranked Canadian men’s player and among the top 500 in the world. He’s yet to lose at the Mid Canada Open, sweeping his way to championships in 2014 and 2017.

“We’re happy. A lot of the best players from last year are here and we have a lot of solid new ones,” said Grieve.

Krainik, 26, is coming off a loss at the ATP Challenger event in Grandby, Que., earlier this week. He’s also competed at International Tennis Federation events in Romania, Mexico and Spain this season in the doubles division.

Krainik meets Jason Everett in the first round with the victor advancing to the Round of 16 this evening at 6 p.m. against either Peter Van Schie or Matt Ongaro. The quarterfinals will be held at 9:30 a.m. on Saturday and the semifinals are set for 3 p.m. that day.

Barring weather delays, the men’s championship final will begin at 1 p.m.

Nick Lagaev, the No. 2 seed this weekend, is a star on the rise. The 18-year-old Vaughan, Ont., native placed as high as third in the Canadian junior rankings.

Lagaev has committed to play for the University of Arizona on a tennis scholarship starting this fall. Today, Lagaev faces Sam Cychosz, another NCAA player, in the first round.

Rounding out the top five seeds in the men’s draw are Toronto’s Jared Horwood, who is also a member of the Arizona Wildcats, Kevin Kyler of Winnipeg, and Markham’s Peter Kuszynski, who is coming off his freshman season at Western University Michigan.

Among the unranked local competitors are Brendan Boudreau, junior Gianni Mascarin and veteran Dave McCallum.

Mascarin won the championship at the Thunder Bay Downtown Volkswagen Helen McGregor Memorial earlier this month. McCallum is coming off a busy week off the courts as president of the centre in their ongoing work to have indoor tennis facilities be a part of the new soccer turf.

Samantha Horwood, 16, of Toronto is the No. 1 seed in the women’s six-player singles draw. Thunder Bay’s Leanne Ryder is the ranked second.

Grieve is looking forward to the youth classes where many of his students will be in a major tournament setting for the first time.

“The junior tournament is just a local tournament, actually. Great registration for under-14,” Grieve said. “We’ve got a ton of our younger kids playing.”

Admission is free throughout the weekend for fans.

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