The time is approaching for Cleveland to take center stage as a welcoming host for a week of professional women’s tennis.
And it’s a time when the organizers hope it will last well into the future, establishing a new tradition for the north coast with impeccable punctuality just before a major.
For the first time in Cleveland, the WTA will host a US Open Series event called “Tennis in the Land” at the Jacobs Pavilion in Nautica on the Flats West Bank from August 22nd to 28th.
The logistics for such a company are and are in full swing.
Presenting Cleveland in the best possible light for the global tennis community is paramount.
“Yeah, the last six months have been crazy,” said Alex Guthrie of Topnotch Management, the organizer of the event. “We’re moving on and hope to have a great event within a month. But yes, everything is moving on the right path, where it should be. We feel in a good place. “
It will be a 32-player singles and 16-team doubles for this WTA 250 event, a penultimate tour stop of the US Open Series before the US Open itself in New York the following week.
Lauren Davis returns to Jodie Burrage during a women’s singles match at Wimbledon on June 28.
Four individual players have made early commitments, including a homecoming for, according to Guthrie Lauren Davis. The 27-year-old Gates Mills native and WTA Tour regular, who ranks 95th worldwide, won a state individual division II championship as a newcomer to Gilmour in 2008.
Caroline Garcia returns a shot from Simona Halep during the Miami Open on March 25.
Participation in Tennis in the Land is also planned Caroline Garcia, a French player who finished fourth in the world rankings in 2018, and Jennifer Brady, 15th place in the world and the second highest among Americans.
Jennifer Brady plays a return to Coco Gauff in her third round match at the French Open on June 5th.
“In addition, our roster is coming out next week,” said Guthrie.
In a sort of modern era, the first glimpses of tennis first appeared on a prominent stage in northeast Ohio in the 1960s and 1970s when organizers successfully brought the Davis Cup final to town a few times, the first time in the year 1964.
As of those days, brief incarnations of professional tennis have come to Cleveland, including a recent Topnotch-operated, pro-grade sub-tournament at Pepper Pike, but not in at least a generation to the extent that tennis will bring to the country.
“The reality of the WTA Tour is that these penalties don’t show up all the time,” Guthrie said. “If we didn’t jump on this particular one, we wouldn’t know when the next one might appear. Even though we were in the middle of a pandemic when we committed that some people thought we might be a little bit crazy, we found it was a perfect time.
“It is enormous that we will get a lot of players who come from (the Western & Southern Open in Mason) who want to warm up in the week leading up to the US Open. Even so, we might get a few last-minute top 20 players who might not have had a good week in Cincinnati and might want a few more games under their belt. If it was another week they might not make the trip to Cleveland. So yeah, it’s a good week for us to do it. “
The infrastructure for hosting tennis in the land will make the West Bank an intriguing, if temporary, fold.
The Center Court will be built into the amphitheater of the Jacobs Pavilion. Since the square will be placed in the pit of the amphitheater, it will be supported with foam to level the normally sloping surface. Much of the current grandstand seating is used, along with box seating that is placed on the stage for concerts. There will be around 3,200 capacities there.
There will be five side and practice areas, which will be built in two nearby parking lots, with grandstands for 300-400 seats for each of the two side places.
From July 23rd, stage boxes will be sold out. Tickets can be purchased through the event website, tennisintheland.com, which includes day and week tickets. Guthrie stated that one of the benefits of the ticket to the event is unlimited daytime privileges.
“So you could actually watch a few games, go to dinner somewhere on the flats, and come back if you want,” Guthrie said. “So we’re trying to make it a great Cleveland experience, not just for tennis – just to show our city to everyone and try to get people downtown.”
For those who can’t make it downtown, much of the action is shown on the Tennis Channel as well as on Bally Sports Great Lakes.
Guthrie hopes that an annual WTA event that brings some of the best players in the world to town will not only affect tennis at a younger level in the greater Cleveland area, but also provide a missing major element of the local sports scene.
“Cleveland doesn’t really have – we have the big three teams, the Cavs, the Guardians, and the Browns – but we don’t really have a basic women’s sporting event,” Guthrie said. “Events came and went for us, and I know there were a few smaller teams. But we don’t really have a big sporting event for women. I think only from a holistic Cleveland perspective in the women’s sports landscape is it huge, not just tennis. Regardless of some of the sports these young girls play, they can see professional female athletes in their hometown.
“I think it’s going to be huge just to get people out of there. You can come out and see it, and then maybe play (tennis) and try it for the first time. They had no reason to play it or see it beforehand. But even after the pandemic, tennis was considered one of the safest activities. So a lot of people started playing in general last summer and now to make this event even more we think it’s huge for the grassroots community here in Cleveland. “