Vegas For Sale?
By Tennis Week
4/3/2008 3:43:00 PM
The buzz in Miami is that Tennis Channel is close to selling its struggling Vegas tournament, The Tennis Channel Open, and there is concern it might not stay in the U.S. As it stands now, the tournament may move to South Africa or it may be shut down and removed from the ATP calendar.
According to insiders, members of the Tennis Channel board were meeting in Miami with potential buyers.
An advocate for retaining the tournament in the U.S. has emailed the media and USTA officials lobbying to keep the tournament in the States.
There were rumors that Sony Ericsson Open founder and Hall of Famer Butch Buchholz was leading a group to buy the tournament and move it to Tampa, however sources say that will not happen.
At this point, it appears there is a slight chance the tournament could be sold and move to South Africa, however it appears more likely the event will be shut down and removed from the ATP schedule. The ATP is trying to streamline its schedule and given the fact the tournament is contested the same week as the $1.4 million Barclays Dubai Tennis Championships, which traditionally attracts top players, and that it occurs the week before the Pacific Life Open at Indian Wells, the Tennis Channel Open has had trouble filling its field with top-10 players.
Since James Blake beat Lleyton Hewitt in the 2006 Tennis Channel Open final, the tournament has failed to consistently attract top draw players and has struggled to sell tickets.
Weather and location play a part: late February is traditionally one of the coldest periods of the year in Vegas with fans — including Andre Agassi on a couple of occasions — forced to bundle up in winter coats to brave the night chill.
American Sam Querrery beat rising South African Kevin Anderson, 4-6, 6-3, 6-4, in last month's Tennis Channel Open final.
© 2007 Tennis Week