SOUTHINGTON — Southington brothers Kunal and Rohan Kataria started the Kataria Classic as teenagers and their tennis tournament continues to grow entering its sixth year.
Kunal and Rohan, now both college students at UConn, are both Southington High School gradates and have always pushed for a family atmosphere at their event each year.
The fun has caught on as the event has drawn more than 100 players in the last three years. This year’s festivities begin on Thursday and will run through Sunday on the courts of Southington High School.
“After the Kenny Hill Jr. Memorial Tournament ended, we wanted to play more tennis in the summer so we decided to start this tournament,” Rohan Kataria said. “As the years have gone on, we realized we can raise money for charities.”
Hands of Hartford is the Katarias’ charity of choice this summer. The funds raised at the tennis tournament with benefit the charity’s Backpack Nutrition Program.
“We wanted a charity to help with social issues,” Rohan Kataria said. “With a small program like this in Hartford to help 229 kids, we feel we can make a difference. The charity gives an incentive to the players that their money makes a real difference. It makes it more tangible.”
The goal for the brothers is to raise $2,500 for 300 backpacks for children in need.
Kunal, 22, and Rohan, 20, each have aspirations in education. Rohan is in his third year at UConn and is studying psychology. Kunal, in his fifth year, is going to be a teacher post graduation.
Earlier in the summer, the duo assisted Matt Wayton and the Wayton Open, which runs about a month earlier in Southington. Following that event, the Katarias immediately turn their attention to their tournament.
“The tournament has grown each year, as has the competition,” Kunal Kataria said. “But we look at this as a family tennis tournament. That’s an important aspect of it.”
“We have lunch for players and families at Southington High,” he added. “We have someone from our charity to speak about their cause. Everyone just has a good time. Most tournaments focus on competition. This is a good event to come to and relax and laugh.”
Last year’s field of 128 was a record and the Katarias hope to eclipse that this year. The ages of the players range from 11 to 75 years old.
Among the divisions are women’s A and B singles and one doubles division. Men have a A, B and C division. There is also a men’s A and B doubles as well as mixed doubles. There is also a “starter” doubles division as well as the new “pressure point” division.
The tournament also features separate boys and girls divisions for players 18 and under.
“We have room to grow in some divisions, but others are capped,” Kunal Kataria said.
The competition intensity turns up on Sunday when each of the champions are crowned.
The brothers work well together, each has their own duties in preparation for the four days of action.
“We have it down pretty good,” Kunal Kataria said. “We started this at a young age and helping out with the Wayton Open. The exposure to that has helped us understand how to run a tennis tournament. Matt Wayton is a great friend and mentor for us.”
The Katarias said they just want to help build the sport they love in the Southington area, however less than half of the field are Southington residents. The field features players from throughout central Connecticut.
Tuesday is the final day to sign up at katariaclassic.org. The cost is $20 for singles players and $30 for doubles.