Cleveland Open Men’s Tennis Tournament Benefits From Lucky Timing

CLEVELAND, Ohio – The status of the Cleveland Open, a traditional week-long men’s tennis tournament that kicks off in just over a week, is mostly helped by lucky timing.

The fourth annual tournament – which runs from Monday, January 31 through Sunday, February 6 – takes place at the Cleveland Racquet Club in Pepper Pike. The club offers an intimate, casual setting, said tournament director Kyle Ross.

The tournament is wedged in after the Australian Open, which is underway, and the next ATP Tour event, which kicks off Feb. 6 in Dallas. That means many of the players who lose in Australia can head to the Cleveland event for a chance to stay in shape and potentially make some money before heading to Dallas.

As a result, Cleveland’s warm-up tournament is already a stronger-than-normal field, Ross said.

It’s similar to music performers who have a date between, say, a concert in Pittsburgh and Indianapolis, and as a result can squeeze a date at a club in Canton or a venue in Akron.

At least 10 players in the top 150 expressed interest in taking part in the Open, Ross said.

The lower level professional ATP event is free for most of the week, with fans sitting a few feet from the pitch.

“It’s never really busy; it’s inherently intimate,” said Ross, describing the club’s capacity of about 200. It’s free Monday through Thursday, with tickets ranging from $25 to $95 available for the last three days — Friday, Saturday, and Sunday February 4-6.

Players participating in the Open are typically ranked between Nos. 150 and 300 in the world, with the draw being a chance to earn ATP ranking points and earn modest prize money. Ross said the winner takes home about $7,000, while a first-round loser can amass a $500 consolation, which does not cover flights for a player and coach.

But tennis fans are looking forward to the tournament’s field, Ross said, adding that “presale is higher than ever before.”

To use a golf analogy, competition is a little better than qualifying golfers, he said.

“I’d say it’s a bit higher than Q-School actually,” he said. “In golf, the players you have at Q-School generally don’t play in the Masters or the US Open. In golf there is a clear level of separation. Many of them were at the Australian Open with these (tennis) players.”

Ross is also one of the organizers of the inaugural Tennis in the Land, held at Jacobs Pavilion in August. The event attracted a number of female players in the rankings. Estonian Anett Kontaveit, currently seventh in the world in the WTA ranking, captured the singles title.

“I think what we’ve done with Tennis in the Land has allowed us to communicate with more tennis fans in the city. I think pro tennis has kind of got on the radar for the people in the city,” he said.

Ross said that players at the Cleveland Open generally come in three types: rising star, fading star and journeyman. Some players have become stars on the ATP Tour, he added.

This year’s field includes Jack Sock, who was previously ranked No. 8 in the world; Tennys Sandgren, a two-time Australian Open quarterfinalist; and Andreas Seppi, who has 10 wins against top 10 players including Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal, Ross said.

“Even if you have the 200th player playing right in front of you,” Ross said, “it’s pretty cool.”

Related Coverage

Anett Kontaveit ends four-year WTA drought with Tennis in the Land triumph

Tennis in the Land final set: tough matches, Myles Garrett in the stands, Cleveland on display (photos)

Tennis in the Land requires technical know-how before the league kicks off in Cleveland

Tennis in the Land ready for a week-long run at Jacobs Pavilion

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