2007 last year in Houston (Westside); Houston (River Oaks) in 2008 - MensTennisForums.com
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post #1 of 24 (permalink) Old 11-09-2006, 07:26 PM Thread Starter
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2007 last year in Houston (Westside); Houston (River Oaks) in 2008

Oct. 29, 2006, 11:05PM
McIngvale making revisions to Westside Club
Facility to get rid of grass courts; 2007 likely last year for Clay event

Copyright 2006 Houston Chronicle

Westside Tennis Club, home to Houston's only major pro tour event, is heading in a new direction, and will soon have a new name — Westside Tennis and Fitness Club.

Jim McIngvale, the discount furniture king, has essentially given up trying to turn a buck on tennis and will try to grow his club membership by offering an array of new products: a state-of-the-art fitness center, a hugely expanded pool area, baseball batting cages and even senior citizen activities.

His goal is 4,000 to 5,000 total members, compared to his current 1,000, a figure that has been stagnant for a while.

"There's no money in tennis," McIngvale said. "It's taken me 10 years to learn that. We haven't been able to grow the game as much as I thought we could."

A conspicuous casualty of the $4 million-plus makeover will be Westside's grass courts because, he said, "Nobody ever plays on them."

And they're difficult to properly maintain.

For the near term, the changes will have no impact on McIngvale's involvement in professional tennis.

The U.S. Clay Court Championships are set for April 9-15, and Westside will keep its World Team Tennis team, the Wranglers, whom McIngvale says have been a financial success for him and his wife, Linda.

However, the club's contract with the USTA for the Clay Courts is entering its final year and he'll push hard — against long odds, given how crowded the calendar is — to get a hardcourts summer date starting in 2008.

He wants to capitalize on the popularity and TV revenues of the U.S. Open Series and to stop having to keep changing the stadium court between cement and clay, which costs about $400,000 a pop.

With Pete Sampras and Andre Agassi no longer in the possible player mix at Westside, McIngvale doesn't see much financial upside in sticking with a spring clay-court tournament.

"Our date is the week after Davis Cup, and players are spread all over the world," he said. "The best (clay-court) players won't come here because they're already in Europe. It's a tough sell without the big names.

"By the time you pay a $250,000 rights fee, half a million in appearance fees and spend millions on advertising, there's not a lot left.

"People say it's hot in Houston in the summer. But it's hot in Cincinnati, too."

Without the "Wimbledon" grass courts, Westside will no longer be the only facility in the world to offer all four Grand Slam tournament playing surfaces.

It also means the 2002 Davis Cup quarterfinal tie against Spain on the grass was a historic one-time occurrence.

Westside had once hoped to become a semi-permanent home to the Davis Cup in the United States because of Westside's variety of surfaces, but the USTA has chosen to spread the Cup around the country.


HoustonChronicle.com -- http://www.HoustonChronicle.com | Section: Tennis
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post #2 of 24 (permalink) Old 11-09-2006, 07:31 PM
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Re: 2007 likely last year for Clay event

Interesting. I wonder if the American players will play Monte Carlo from 2008 onwards?

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post #3 of 24 (permalink) Old 11-09-2006, 07:47 PM Thread Starter
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Re: 2007 likely last year for Clay event

Originally Posted by JXneutron View Post
Interesting. I wonder if the American players will play Monte Carlo from 2008 onwards?
The USTA owns the sanction for the tournament & has leased it to various operators (in several cities) over the years. It could lease it to another operator in another city & keep it as a clay court event on the same date in 2008 or it could support the current operators in keeping it in Houston & petitioning the ATP for a new date/surface change.
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post #4 of 24 (permalink) Old 11-19-2006, 07:31 AM
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Re: 2007 likely last year for Clay event

aw, I happened to take pictures of the grass courts when I went there... and it's true, no one was playing on them
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post #5 of 24 (permalink) Old 11-20-2006, 06:47 PM Thread Starter
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Re: 2007 last year for clay event in Houston

On another Houston-related note, an email showed up in my mail box this morning providing news that after six years in Houston, the Westside Tennis Club is saying goodbye to the U.S. Men's Clay Court Championships in April 2007. Known as the second-oldest USTA National Championship tournament, behind the U.S. Open, the event was first contested in 1910 and was brought to Houston in 2001 by Jim and Linda McIngvale, who also hosted the Masters Cup in Houston for two years. The McIngvales certainly don't fit the mold of traditional tennis sponsors, but all-in-all they have been incredibly supportive of the sport and extremely hospitable to Tennis Server and other media working to spread the joy of the sport. It will be sad indeed to see ATP tennis leaving Houston.

"Although we have thoroughly enjoyed our relationship with the USTA, we feel that the expense involved in the tournament and the timing of the event on the ATP schedule makes it not feasible from an economic standpoint" said Westside owner Linda McIngvale. "We will continue to be the home of the WTT's Houston Wranglers and hope that we can host future events with the USTA such as the Davis Cup ties in the US."

The final U.S. Men's Clay Court Championship at Westside will be held April 9th-15th 2007 and feature tennis stars like Andy Roddick, James Blake and Mardy Fish.
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post #6 of 24 (permalink) Old 11-21-2006, 03:28 AM Thread Starter
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Re: 2007 last year for clay event in Houston

Nov. 20, 2006, 7:38PM
U.S. clay courts leaving Houston in 2008
Copyright 2006 Houston Chronicle

The U.S. Men's Clay Court Championships will be played for the last time at Westside Tennis Club in April 2007.

Westside owners Jim and Linda McIngvale said the high costs involved in putting on the tournament and maintaining the French red clay courts, plus dramatically declining revenues and the disruption to the club led to the decision to not attempt to extend their contract with the United States Tennis Association.

The USTA owns the ATP tournament and, in effect, leases it to the McIngvales for a $250,000 annual fee. As mandated by the ATP, the event's prize money must increase by 10 percent to $418,000 in 2007 and at least $250,000 more figure to be paid out in appearance fees to the marquee players.

The tournament turned a profit in 2002, when Pete Sampras and Andre Agassi were in the field, and again in 2003 when Agassi returned. But it has lost significant sums the last two springs, Linda McIngvale said.

"People were losing interest," she said. "The clay court draw just doesn't excite the community like it used to."

The tournament has been unable to attract the best clay-court players in the world, most conspicuously Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal. Its dates are inconvenient, following a Davis Cup week and preceding a $2.5 million Masters Series tournament in Monte Carlo.

Jim McIngvale admits it's unlikely the club would host a tournament of any kind in 2008, but he hopes to maintain a relationship with the USTA to possibly bring in future Davis Cup or Fed Cup ties to Houston, or to become part a USTA American tour if one were ever to come to fruition.

He said he has lost "more than five million dollars" with the event, which he brought to Houston from Disney World in 2001. Until the McIngvales became involved, Houston had been without a presence on the ATP Tour since the mid-1980s.

"We've got to have more U.S. tennis superstars" to be successful," he said. "Andy (Roddick) and James (Blake) can't carry it by themselves."

McIngvale said losing Sampras and, this fall, Agassi to retirement contributed to their decision, as did the club's planning to remain involved in World Team Tennis, which requires matches to be played on a hard court.

The annual transition from the clay to a hard court in the stadium has proved logistically difficult and expensive -- $500,000 per turnover when the French contractors come to do the work themselves.

In fact, Linda McIngvale, the club's on-site manager, also said all of Westside's French red clay courts -- except one for a "souvenir" -- would be replaced with either American green clay or turned into hard courts after next spring's tournament, set for April 9-12.

Westside had previously announced it would stress fitness equally with tennis in the years to come and is changing its name to Westside Tennis and Fitness Club. In all, 13 of the current 45 courts will be removed, including the four "Wimbledon" grass courts that were part of the club's "Play the World" marketing strategy. Westside offered all four Grand Slam tournament surfaces.

The McIngvales said they have yet to speak with any USTA officials since sending them an e-mail late last week regarding their intentions.

"They're business people, too," Jim McIngvale said. "They know we've got to do what we've got to do. Nobody in the United States has poured as much money into tennis over the last 10 years as me and Linda have. I hope they're happy to have us in the game."

McIngvale had a bitter parting with the ATP after it decided not to bring its season-ending Masters Cup back to Houston for a third year in 2005, opting instead to sign a huge contract with the Chinese government to play in Shanghai. He said he couldn't foresee a scenario where he would negotiate directly with the ATP for a tournament to replace the Clay Courts.

"We're not big ATP fans, as you know," he said. "But we're huge USTA fans. Hopefully one of these days we'll hook up with them again."

A USTA spokesperson, requesting anonymity because he hadn't been officially authorized to comment, said he was "100 percent certain the tournament wouldn't be allowed to die."

Of the McIngvales, he said: "Obviously, Jim and Linda are two of the biggest tennis supporters in the country. We expect to continue a relationship with them, and the USTA will continue to provide players with the opportunity to play on clay. If we need to move the event, we'll look for a site to honor the history of the event while maintaining the interest the McIngvales generated in Houston."

The tournament dates from the late nineteenth century.

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post #7 of 24 (permalink) Old 11-27-2006, 06:41 PM Thread Starter
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Re: 2007 last year for clay event in Houston

Next stop?

The news of Westside's pulling out caught the USTA by surprise.

Early speculation has the tournament moving back to the East Coast, probably to Florida, Georgia or the Carolinas. Greater Atlanta has been without a major tour event since 2001 and has the most active tennis leagues by far in the country — it's 100,000-plus participants dwarf Houston's total, Blume says — so it might be where the USTA looks first.

A pie-in-the-sky alternative for Houston's keeping the tournament would be River Oaks, but the economics that drove the club off the ATP Tour two decades ago have only become worse. Its exhibition event, the River Oaks International, is a more comfortable fit and can be staged for roughly $500,000, about half what the Clay Courts cost Westside.

The River Oaks name is synonymous with fabulous wealth, but a million bucks for a tennis tournament simply isn't going to fly with the membership, for whom the tournament tends to be an excuse for a garden party.

And it's especially tough to make money the way this particular tournament is structured. As its owner, the USTA pockets all of the international sponsorship money.
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post #8 of 24 (permalink) Old 02-06-2007, 05:32 PM
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Re: 2007 last year in Houston; East Coast in 2008?

The tournament will be on green clay this year

Westside going for green
Club switching from red clay; French company sues for breach

Copyright 2007 Houston Chronicle

As a cost-cutting measure, the final U.S. Men's Clay Court Championships at Westside Tennis and Fitness Club, April 9-15, will be played on American green clay, not the photogenic French red clay of the past six springs.

The United States Tennis Association, which owns the tournament, approves of the change, according to a USTA spokesperson. But the French company that built Westside's red clay courts and refurbished them before last year's tournament is not pleased.

Supersol has sued the club for breach of contract, asking for $233,000 in damages.

The firm, also charged with maintaining the world's most famous red clay courts at Roland Garros, is being represented in Houston by Arthur Feldman and Associates. Feldman e-mailed the Chronicle a copy of a contract between Linda McIngvale and Supersol that McIngvale appears to have signed in December, requesting its contractors return to Houston for several weeks this winter to refurbish the courts.

"My clients assumed they had a deal," Arthur Feldman said. "The contract was signed and returned (to Supersol). They planned to be here working (this month). You can't back out of a contract."

McIngvale and her husband, Jim, the Gallery Furniture impresario, own Westside together and she oversees the club's daily operations.

The McIngvales decided last fall not to extend their commitment to the USTA to host the Clay Courts, citing declining interest in the event because of soft fields, problems with maintaining the surface and their desire to reshape the facility as an all-around family fitness venue.

Based on copies of e-mails Feldman also provided, Linda McIngvale later changed her mind about bringing the Supersol team in, blaming the exchange rate between the dollar and the euro, which is near a historic low, for making the project "something we cannot afford to do this year."

The agreed-upon price was 253,352 euros, or approximately $328,000, according to the lawsuit filed last week in U.S. District Court.

The amount sought in damages is presumed to be Supersol's anticipated profits.

Linda McIngvale confirmed the switch to green clay but wouldn't comment on the suit except to say: "They're a little upset, (but) they don't have a case, in my opinion. We didn't have a contract with them. But I'm really not at liberty to talk about any of it right now.

"(The red clay) is a very, very expensive proposition and always has been. We made the decision we'd rather put that money into improvements for our members long term."

A local company will be contracted to refurbish the stadium and show-court surfaces.

A complication for the club has been having to transition from a clay surface for the tournament to hardcourts for the World Tennis Team season.

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post #9 of 24 (permalink) Old 02-14-2007, 05:00 PM Thread Starter
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Re: 2007 last year in Houston; East Coast in 2008?

U.S. Clay Courts?

There apparently isn't any definitive word yet on the possibility of the U.S. Men's Clay Court Championships moving back to Charleston next spring from Houston, but USTA public relations executive Chris Widmaier said Tuesday from New York, "We'll take due diligence to explore a number of possible locations (for the Clay Courts), but I know Charleston will be on that list."
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post #10 of 24 (permalink) Old 02-22-2007, 10:42 PM
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Re: 2007 last year in Houston; East Coast in 2008?

green clay

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2007: Brasov CH
2008: Brasil Open & Acapulco
2009: Umag & Genoa CH
2010: Roland Garros, Newport, Bastad, Toronto, Cincinnati, London WTF
2011: Rotterdam & Valencia
2012: Estoril, Bastad, Bangkok
2013: Sydney, Estoril, Nottingham Ch, Cali Ch
2014: Chennai, Buenos Aires
2015: Sao Paulo Ch

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post #11 of 24 (permalink) Old 02-25-2007, 03:32 PM
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Re: 2007 last year in Houston; East Coast in 2008?

they say the grass courts aren't that well maintained, does anyone know if you can pay to play on them even if you aren't a member?

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post #12 of 24 (permalink) Old 03-02-2007, 05:03 AM Thread Starter
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Re: 2007 last year in Houston; East Coast in 2008?

Green's good to go

Gayle Bradshaw wears two hats for the ATP, and his other title - the one he calls "my day job" - is executive vice president for rules and competition. In that capacity, he weighed in on Westside's money-saving decision to play the Clay Courts on green clay this year instead of the French red clay.

"We did have time to get word out to the players of the change, so they are all aware of it, and that was our only concern," he said. "The red clay was a bit of a drawing card (for some players), but I'm not aware of any negative feedback, although it might not come to me but rather to our player services people. As long as the players get notified, so they know what to prepare for, there's really no problem from (the ATP's) side."
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post #13 of 24 (permalink) Old 03-20-2007, 11:56 PM
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Re: 2007 last year in Houston; East Coast in 2008?

Green clay acually isnt that bad, i play on it personally.

I cannot stand Djokovic

I'm an American who loves clay tennis and the clay season...what is wrong with that picture?
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post #14 of 24 (permalink) Old 03-21-2007, 03:08 AM
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Re: 2007 last year in Houston; East Coast in 2008?

Originally Posted by gusman890 View Post
Green clay acually isnt that bad, i play on it personally.
Me too, I kinda like the stuff.

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post #15 of 24 (permalink) Old 03-21-2007, 06:12 AM
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Re: 2007 last year in Houston; East Coast in 2008?

Originally Posted by Snowwy View Post
Me too, I kinda like the stuff.
I haven't been sliding around on it in awhile, I kinda miss it.

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