The California High School Girls Tennis Classic started as an eight-team, local tournament 26 years ago.
It's blossomed into a 116-team, statewide affair that's believed to be the largest high school girls tennis tournament in the nation.
Matches in eight different divisions start at 8:30 a.m. today and Saturday at 26 Fresno-area sites. The finals are set for 1:30 p.m. Saturday at various sites.
"We've had amazing site directors," said co-director Bill Bradley, who's been involved with the tournament for 10 years. "Coaches talk to other coaches and if a tournament runs smoothly with all the site directors, people want to come back."
The tournament is so deep and talented that no Central Section schools made the 16-team Division I bracket that's headlined by powers such as Corona del Mar-Newport Beach, Archbishop Mitty-San Jose, Santa Barbara, Monta Vista-Cupertino, Menlo-Atherton and Saratoga. The event also will feature the United States Tennis Association's No. 1 18-year-old in Northern California: Saratoga's Crystal Yen.
Of the 48 Central Section teams in the tournament, only defending Division I champion Clovis West, runner-up Buchanan, semifinalist Garces and quarterfinalist Memorial made the Division II bracket.
"This tournament really gives us a chance to see how deep our team is," Buchanan coach and co-tournament director Jonathan Slater said. "The teams we will be playing will have good players one through 10. It gives us a good chance to match up against some really good teams and it also gives our top kids the chance to see some top-level out-of-area competition."
Bullard, which will be without reigning Bee Co-Player of the Year Pookie Gonzalez (who will be at a volleyball tournament), is in the D-III bracket. Defending Central Section champions Clovis North (D-III), Bakersfield Christian (D-IV) and Immanuel (D-V) are also part of a tournament that draws teams from as far north as Yuba City and as far south as Newport Beach.
"Every match is going to be a good match," Slater said. "All the best teams are here."