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Cello Again Heads up NorthBay Tourney

Posted: August 29, 2019

The NorthBay Healthcare Men’s Pro Championship returns in October with Phil Cello once again at the helm of the annual event.

Phil, active in the local and national tennis community for more than 30 years, leads the tournament alongside Solano Community College tennis coach Rafael Rovira for the fifth straight year. It brings high-caliber professional tennis to the region and attention to the Chris Cammisa Tennis and Education Foundation.

The tournament runs Oct. 7-13 at the Solano Community College courts in Fairfield. There will be 48 singles players and 16 doubles teams competing for the championship of this ATP Challenger event.

The long-time local coach and instructor began the Cammisa Foundation as a way to bring tennis and a related educational program to underserved youth in Solano County. The nonprofit’s work has also played a pivotal role in the establishment of the men’s and women’s tennis programs at Solano Community College, which Rafael has led since its inception in 2016.

Dr. Cammisa served as NorthBay Healthcare’s chairman in the department of family practice. He was chief medical officer at Partnership HealthPlan of California from 1999 to 2019 before his death in June 2014. Dr. Cammisa was also a long-time sports advocate in the county and a tennis enthusiast.

“We’ve been able to provide low-cost, or no-cost training to underserved kids and others in the county,” Phil said. “When I went to Dr. Cammisa’s memorial and noticed all the tennis people there, it was only appropriate to name the foundation for him.”

The Challenger tournament began in its current form at Rancho Solano Country Club in 2015 before moving to the college campus. Phil saw that the courts were going unused and wanted to bring a new focus to the college. Now Rafael has a bustling program and the courts are regularly used, not just during the tournament in October.

Phil previously led a Challenger tournament in 1992 and 1993 called the Safeway Classic, which was held at Rancho Solano. When the opportunity came to move a nearby Napa Challenger to Solano County, he jumped at the chance.

Phil owns and operates Cello International Tennis Academy, has participated in NorCal Player Development camps, is a past USTA NorCal president and was honored with a USTA NorCal Service to Tennis Lifetime Achievement Award in 1988.

He began his professional career as the Tennis Director at Green Valley Country Club. After 16 years, he became a founding partner at Rancho Solano until the club was sold in 1994. That’s when he began his academy.

In 2013, he was named to the Northern California Tennis Hall of Fame. At the time, Phil said, “Tennis is a wonderful, competitive game. I enjoy teaching because I can always come up with an answer for something. I have great visualization and communicating skills, so I can see what a player needs to develop and help them to do it successfully.”

The NorthBay Healthcare tournament serves as the final leg of the men’s worldwide Association of Tennis Professionals Challenger Tour’s swing through Northern California. It remains a great opportunity for local spectators to watch up-and-coming tennis talent. Fifteen of the current top-100 in the ATP rankings have used the Fairfield event as a stepping stone to the ATP tour.

Tickets for the seven-day tournament go on sale in the fall. All seating is in close proximity to the courts. There are also numerous opportunities to be a tournament sponsor, volunteer, and for youth, “Ball Kids” during the matches.

For information, contact Phil at (707) 853-0915 or email
Cellotennis@Comcast.net, or Rafael at (707) 246-0990 or email at Rafael.rovira@Solano.edu.

The tournament website can be found at FairfieldProTennis.com.