The LA Tennis Open Presented by Farmers Insurance Group, is one of the longest running sporting events not just in Southern California but in the entire United States. To put it into context, the first year the Masters golf event was held in 1934 was the LA Tennis Open’s tenth year of operation. During the tournament’s history, many of the game’s greatest players including Rod Laver, Jimmy Connors, John McEnroe, Pete Sampras and Andre Agassi have won the event.
This year current stars, including Juan Martin del Potro, are committed to playing. And with Del Potro’s recent wrist surgery and recovery, Los Angeles could be the first event back for the defending U.S. Open champion. Adjusting the Net recently spoke to the event’s tournament director, Bob Kramer, to find out what fans can expect.
ATN: I first wanted to ask you about Novak Djokovic and Juan Martin del Potro commiting so early as well as having last year’s champion Sam Querrey return too along with your thoughts on how that will help create interest in the event this year. (Editor’s Note: This interview was conducted prior to Del Potro’s announcement that he would not return to the tour until November.)
KRAMER: It’s wonderful to have our two champions back in Querrey and the Bryan Brothers (for doubles) as well as having two top five players in Djokovic and Del Potro so it’s a great start for the event.
ATN: Last year the event suffered a little bit from the economy and from down attendance and I wanted to know what opportunities are available for fans on a budget who wish to attend the event.
KRAMER: We’ll have special discounts for our members as well as for children, military and seniors along with discounts to our USTA members here in Southern California and those that participate in youth tennis. In the meantime, we are trying to sell as many regular tickets so that it continues to be a fundraiser for the local tennis association here. And there are better discounts for tickets during the earlier rounds and the daytime sessions. We will be announcing some special offers coming up in a few weeks probably through an email blast.
ATN: Your event benefits many of the grassroots tennis programs in Southern California. Can you speak more about that?
KRAMER: The Southern California Tennis Association is a non-profit and an extension of the USTA and our tournament is a fundraiser for the association and its programs. One of the larger programs is to bring low-cost summer instruction so that a lot of players can play for free. About 5,000 kids play in the summer program and a couple thousand more play year-round in over a hundred parks in this area. So the program pays for equipment and balls, court time, the instructor’s time and other things. The tournament has generated over the last 20 years about five milion dollars that goes back to the association and its programs and on our website there’s a listing of all the programs that we support from junior to senior players.
ATN: Aside from the Legends match between Andre Agassi and John McEnroe, what other attractions or special events should fans look forward to this year?
KRAMER: We’ll begin with a concert on Friday evening and that’s the first time we’ve ever done anything like that. The Legends match on Saturday night will be a fundraiser for the Andre Agassi Foundation for Education and then the tournament proper starts on Monday. During the week, there will be a USTA member appreciation evening on Monday along with a Kids’ Day on Tuesday. We’ll also have a Senior Hall of Fame and induction day for those players from Southern California along with smaller promotions throughout the week.
ATN: I have a few friends who play tennis here in Los Angeles but have never been to the event. What would you say to those who are the fence about attending?
KRAMER: Well for one, it’s a lot of fun being outdoors in a beautiful setting to watch tennis. And there will be plenty of culinary experiences available for people to take advantage of. As we spoke about before, if people come earlier in the week, there are plenty of opportunities for them to purchase tickets at lower prices along with having two courts in action all the time. And to start off the week, there’s also the qualifying tournament for players, who by the way are pretty darn good and are usually directed into the main draws of the French and U.S. Opens, trying to enter into the main draw here and that is free to attend.
ATN: So if Andy Murray called you up and said he wanted a wildcard into the event, would that be a possibility?
KRAMER: We’d have to think long and hard about that and then say yes (laughs). We thought that he would be committing to us back in October but obviously with his schedule and playing Davis Cup he’s got an extraordinary thought process on how to prepare for the major tournaments. But he’s played here before so he’s welcome back. But in the meantime we’ll welcome the rest of the tennis world and they’ll be here this July.
The LA Tennis Open Presented by Farmers Insurance Group, will be held July 26th through August 1st at the Los Angeles Tennis Center at UCLA. For more information, please visit the tournament’s official website here.