It didn’t take long for the New York tri-state area to recoup the WTA tournament it lost when New Haven’s Connecticut Open sold its WTA Premier sanction earlier this year. On Monday, it was announced that the Cary Leeds Center for Tennis & Learning, in the Bronx borough of New York City, will host the NYJTL Bronx Open from August 16-24.
“We are thrilled to welcome women’s professional tennis back to the Bronx after a seven-year break during the construction of the Cary Leeds Center,” said NYJTL CEO George Guimaraes. “The WTA and the USTA have both stepped up to make this a world-class tournament to serve as the players’ final preparation for the US Open which starts two days after our final.”
The International-level event will offer players $250,000 in prize money, but it won’t cost fans even a dollar to watch those players vie for their share of the purse. Like the US Open qualifying tournament, which will take place on the same week just a few miles away in Queen’s Flushing Meadows-Corona Park, anyone can walk into Bronx’s Crotona Park and see professional tennis for free.
The 30-player singles tournament and 16-team doubles draw will be the only WTA tournament taking place the week before the US Open.
“While temporary facilities were constructed each year in the past, this year the $26.5-million Cary Leeds Center will provide a world-class facility with two stadium courts and access to a total of 20 additional courts,” said NYJTL Tournament Director Joe Ceriello. “The Cary Leeds Center also includes a two-story, 12,000-square-foot clubhouse with classrooms, and the Victor Kiam Stadium and the Pershing Square Stadium create an up-close and intimate tennis viewing experience.”
This isn’t the first time the NYJTL—New York Junior Tennis & Learning—has been closely involved with the professional game. According to Ceriello, it “promoted one WTA Challenger and more than 15 USTA Pro Circuit professional tennis tournaments in Crotona Park from 1993-2012,” and this summer, the Cary Leeds Center will serve as the home venue for World TeamTennis’ New York Empire.
In our 2017 feature on the Cary Leeds Center, author Jon Levey reported that the facility had its eye on securing a WTA 125K-level tournament. That has more than come to fruition. Like so many things involving the NJYTL, the non-profit youth tennis and education program wildly exceeded expectations.
“It shouldn’t stick out,” Levey began his story on the Bronx tennis beacon. “That was the directive given to Gluck+, the architects commissioned with designing the $26.5 million Cary Leeds Center—the new centerpiece of New York Junior Tennis & Learning.”
“But the truth is, given the impressiveness of the new facility and the good works of the organization, it’s impossible for the NYJTL to remain under the radar.”
And with the WTA coming to town, that will be even more difficult.